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Preview: Warriors (17-3) vs. Pacers (10-10)

Can a rested Golden State avoid complacency against an energized and healthy Indiana team?

Golden State Warriors v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Make no mistake about it. The Indiana Pacers will roll into Oracle Arena intent on moving above the .500 mark. Any fatigue from their Western travels and recent high-scoring games will likely be a non-factor when compared with the wave of momentum the team is riding into the Bay Area.

Here’s a look at a few key story lines heading into tonight’s game:

Disadvantages for the Dubs

To be successful on Monday, the Warriors need to erase their November 21st 120-83 blowout win against the Pacers from their minds. Instead, they should focus on the fact that Pacers coach Nate McMillan chose to rest Paul George and Myles Turner for that game.

Until the recent western swing, some of the Pacers’ early-season stumbles were a direct result of guys being out of the lineup due to injury. But a healthy Pacers’ squad faced off against the Clippers on Sunday and rallied from 15 down to finish with a strong 111-102 win. Thaddeus Young closed the night with 17 points and 7 rebounds. (Back on November 27th, the Pacers roasted the Clippers in another confidence-boosting performance: 91-70, at home.)

Supposing Paul George’s bloody-nose drama from last night is resolved by tipoff, the Warriors will face a healthy Indiana team looking to break the breakeven mark. This means Stephen Curry & Co. cannot rest on their laurels and expect an easy win. To avoid giving the Pacers any opportunity to reach the 11-10 mark, the Warriors will need to clean up the sloppy play and avoid errant passes that could make it easy for them.

All-Star Advantages

On the upside, the Warriors have a lot working in their favor.

First, the team is coming in with fresh legs, having rested on Sunday following a face-off against the Suns on Saturday. The Pacers, however, will be playing the second game of a back-to-back in which the first game was a dominant, but exhausting, come-from-behind win.

Next, the Pacers have one of the worst road records in the league (2-6), while the Warriors boast one of the best home records (8-2).

While the Pacers picked up a little momentum from Sunday’s win against the Clippers, they undoubtedly realized they have a lot of work to do after a 131-109 blowout loss to Portland on November 30th. This kind of inconsistency in stringing together wins is a bigger problem for Indiana than turnovers and sloppy ballhandling are for Golden State.

Despite having a day off, Golden State will be entering tonight’s game with a little momentum of its own. The team basically flushed the toilet with the Suns in a commanding 138-109 beatdown on Saturday, which featured well-rounded play from Kevin Durant and Splash Brothers, Curry and Klay Thompson, combining for 57 points.

Finally, with 2014-15 NBA championship rings on their fingers, the two-time MVP/best shooter on the planet running point, and shoot-from-anywhere Durant on the roster, the Dubs are not lacking for confidence. But they should be wary of letting it tip into cockiness against this Pacers’ team.

This matchup has potential to be just another day at the office for the Warriors. But it also is the kind of contest that could see unexpected stellar play from unsuspecting players on a lesser team.

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