While schools have already finished their final exams before the end of semesters, the Pacers are now entering a patch of four games that could say a lot about where this team is going. There are four games against playoff caliber teams that I am not sure what to expect from the Pacers. On one hand, I can say that going 2-2 would be ideal. But it wouldn’t surprise me and it wouldn’t be too good if the Pacers end up on one of those losing streaks we’ve had to deal with before. They could lose four straight and drop out of playoff contention after getting up to first place in the Central Division.
Last night’s win against the Washington Wizards I thought was going to be a warm up for the Pacers as they enter these next four games. But it was a tough road at times even with a lead of double figures, you never felt that comfortable. The Pacers are still playing without George Hill, who hopefully can go in the next day. He’s so important to the flow of the team that it’s pertinent that he be able to go if the Pacers want to do something over this stretch.
Friday January 4th Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics
Now this one will be hard to predict as who knows what Celtics team will show up. The Celtics that put together a great game and won easily on Christmas Day. Or the Celtics team that has lost four straight, one of which included a loss to the Kings. The other three came at the hands of much better teams in the Warriors, Clippers, and Grizzlies, so that can be somewhat forgiven. I think the key to stopping the Celtics is to slow down Rajon Rondo. Sure Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are there, but Rondo is the play maker and the Pacers struggle with those types.
Saturday January 5th Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee Bucks
This starts three straight games at home for the Pacers, which could be a good thing as they’ve won six straight at home. This is a game the Pacers will want to win to get something back from a Bucks team that’s already beat them twice. Two games in which the Bucks looked like the better team, which is why it would be important to pick up the win here. Plus the Pacers are leading the Bucks in the division race, so any space provided would be ideal.
Tuesday January 8th Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat
This is the one that is circled on the calendar as far as important games. Remember that playoff series where the Pacers went up 2-1 and had a home game to possibly go up more? The Pacers won’t forget that as Lebron James and Dwayne Wade practically carried the Heat through that series after game four. The Pacers will look to do their best to slow down one of the two. Which one do you slow do is the bigger question? James is playing as well as he can, so maybe slowing down Wade is the better option. Either way I expect a good fight out of the Pacers, and it’s too bad Danny Granger isn’t available for this game as he’s usually that type that would step up in this environment. But I would look for Paul George to do his best to step into that role.
Thursday January 10th Indiana Pacers vs New York Knicks
This is another one of those avenge a loss type games for the Pacers. They went to New York in November and got shot out of the arena by a team that didn’t shoot that well. But it felt like everyone on the Knicks was hurting the Pacers. Was there anyone playing better than Carmelo Anthony? Even now, he’s still up there in playing ability, and he’s the one that the Pacers have to figure out how to slow down. He’s a match up nightmare for David West as he can put the ball on the floor or he can take a jump shot. The Knicks are playing the Spurs, Magic, and Celtics before they take on the Pacers, so it should be interesting to see where they are come next week.