Golden State Warriors (11-2) at Indiana Pacers (7-7)
How to Watch?
Date: Monday November 20, 2016
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, IN
Time: 4:00pm PST
TV: CSN Bay Area, League Pass Radio: 95.7 THE GAME
The Warriors... are coming off a big win in Milwaukee on Saturday night where they extracted some revenge for last year’s streak-ending defeat by the hands of the Bucks. Despite giving up 121 points, it does seem as if the Warriors are starting to get the defensive side of the ball figured out.
Both the Boston game and the Bucks game featured dominating defensive stretches - lead by Draymond Green - that lead to the generation of large leads. The knock on the team before the year started was going to be “lack of rim protection.”
What we have seen so far has been a lack of general chemistry on the defensive side. The lapses so far have been bad rotations on pick and roll, bad individual defense, and a hangover from the dependency on Andrew Bogut in the middle for altering and changing shots.
Well, the reality now is a more team-oriented defense of blocking up the paint, which has at times generated success stopping teams who can't shoot the three. Those who can - the Lakers in Los Angeles for example - simply stretched the Warriors out into bad habits and then diced them up with layups and second chance shots when Golden State forgot to team rebound.
On the other side of the ball, the offense has been amazing (1st in the league at 116.8 points per game). The crazy thing is that we have only seen one game where the top three offensive weapons - Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant - have all been locked-in shooting-wise. Add to that Draymond Green’s streaky scoring to start the year, and you question again “how good can this team be?”
While I don’t think they will ever score 150 (Coach Kerr will pull the starters too quick and the bench isn't good enough to carry it out), I do picture more matchups that end 125-120. Durant was simply unstoppable at times against the Bucks, and to have a weapon like that to go to when Curry and Thompson aren't hitting their shots is amazing. Despite Durant getting plenty of post up and isolation play opportunities, the Warriors are still consistently getting over 30 assists a game.
The Pacers... are a bit of a disappointment so far this year. Many critics picked them to be a top three team in the East, and so far they have found themselves flat while trying to integrate new talent to the roster (sound familiar?).
Under new coach Nate McMillan they have a below-average defense to go along with a league-average offense. They have brought along new weapon Jeff Teague, who is averaging 14.9 points per game (PPG) to go along with 6.5 assists per contests, to run the show on the floor. They are anchored by their gold metal winning star Paul George, who is coming off his Olympic win with 21.0 PPG and chipping in seven rebounds per contest.
Warrior-killer Thad Young and sophomore Myles Turner round out the front court. Turner has, at times, looked like the next face of the franchise as he develops his complete court game on both sides of the ball. Old Warriors friend Monta Ellis is having a down year so far trying to share the ball with the new scorers, but it’s always great to see familiar faces!
Indiana’s season has been wildly inconsistent, and they are coming off a big overtime win against the Thunder at home on Sunday night. However, this was a bounce-back after a bad loss to the lowly Suns at home. While they hold wins over the Cavaliers and Bulls, they did allow the 76ers to get the best of them.
Which Pacers team will show up? In their losses, they are allowing opponents to score 114 points. They have also played three overtime games so far this year already, meaning their .500 record could be even worse. They have a roster that on paper looks dominant. But they find themselves barely at the bottom of the playoff race in the East, which arguably has gotten much more competitive this year, and if they don’t start trending soon, they could find themselves on the outside looking in.
The Pacers have been a team that the Warriors traditionally struggle against. Indiana’s size and physicality have worked well to slow down the pace and movement of the Warriors’ guards. However, this appears to be a different Pacers this team this year relying more on scoring then the “grind it out” DNA of teams past. Indiana does feature the type of players that give the Warriors trouble - big athletic wings who can drive and finish in George and Young.
While I think Indiana has more talent then in years past, there still hasn’t been enough on the court for me to label them a capable threat. Not even beating the Thunder convinced me they have turned the corner yet, and I still give the advantage to the Warriors in this one, at a final score of 117-101.