Indiana Pacers (39-24)
Minnesota Timberwolves (22-39)
The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off a rout of the San Antonio Spurs, while the Pacers are hoping to recover from the bad loss in Miami. As a Pacers fan, that loss looked like it took a lot out of this Pacers team as they looked confused on all ends of the court. It will be very important to establish some identity for this team. The Timberwolves are coming off the high of beating the Spurs, and fully taking them out at that. Now Minnesota has a chance for back to back wins for the first time in a bit. They’ve taken care of the Pacers already this season after catching the Pacers asleep and scoring at the end of the previous game.
The Pacers don’t have any shot at the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but that’s not a big concern. It’s important to win the division, which Indiana leads by four games. They’re right there close to second place in the Eastern Conference, which would be a good thing as well. But it starts tonight, and how they perform.
The Pacers look like a different team when playing at home, so tonight is big. If they can get the offense rolling like it has at home, then this game should be the Pacers in a run away win. They’ve been over 100 points quite a few times at home, and even close to averaging 110, which is great for such an offensively low team. The energy seems to be there so much more when the team is at home. I hope the Pacers don’t overlook the T’Wolves, and let them sneak out with a win.
Speaking of the offense, that needs to continue to improve. At home the Pacers have looked so much better offensively. But there’s always room for improvement. The turnovers have got to come down. There have been too many careless passes at times. They don’t always have to find that extra open man if they have the shot. Tyler Hansbrough has looked to be totally unconfident in his jump shot, passing up opportunities to take a shot. Roy Hibbert needs to continue his offensive improvement, as he’s looking to be shooting at a better percentage. I would think Paul George comes out and gets 20 or more points to carry the team. And what more could you expect out of David West? I’d like to see him hit for 20 or more points as well.
Slow Down Ricky Rubio
The only downfall of the Pacers’ defense at times is slowing down those playmakers, and Rubio is that. George Hill will have to be on his toes all evening as he tries to stop Rubio. I think there will be plenty of times other guys will need to help out, and hopefully as a team this defense comes to play. How about only giving up 90 points or less? At home, the Pacers always seem to be there defensively, and I could see the Pacers locking down tonight.
All in all, I hope that the Pacers come out with some passion and intensity. Putting away the Timberwolves early could build up that confidence, and not necessarily look ahead to the Lakers game on Friday, but get more prepared for it. But like I said before, don’t overlook tonight, and build back up what this team is all about.