Sacramento Kings (13-22) at Indiana Pacers (29-7)
The Indiana Pacers welcome the Sacramento Kings to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the first and only time this season tonight at 7:00 p.m.
Indiana is in the middle of a four-game home stand, with tonight’s game being the second of the four contests.
After starting the season 4-13, Sacramento has held steady since, going 9-9 in their last 18 games. That rate won’t be enough for a playoff spot in the West, but improving on that could do the trick.
Kings executives have made a series of roster moves in hope of improvement with the team. Isaiah Thomas was moved into the starting lineup and has flourished in the role. Sacramento also acquired Rudy Gay in a trade with the Toronto Raptors. Gay has since put up quality numbers. Derrick Williams, a former lottery pick, was also acquired from Minnesota and comes off the bench.
Overall, Thomas, Gay and DeMarcus Cousins form a nice trio in the starting lineup for Sacramento. Whether or not they can become a playoff-caliber team is yet to be determined.
Nevertheless, slowing those three down is critical for the Indiana Pacers. Cousins matches up well with Roy Hibbert and presents an interesting challenge in the post and on the boards. Thomas is a quick-trigger from the perimeter who can also create shots for his teammates.
Gay has always posed problems for Paul George and tonight may be no different. George is trying to re-establish his shooting stroke, but that won’t be easy against Rudy Gay, never mind the part about guarding the Kings lengthy forward.
Outside of those matchups, this game comes down to the play of Lance Stephenson, Danny Granger and Luis Scola. Sacramento really has no answer for those three guys, as much of their offense flows through Thomas, Cousins and Gay. They like to get out in transition on offense and get easy buckets.
Indiana also needs to watch for pick-and-roll dunks from Thomas to Cousins. I expect a competitive game tonight, with Indiana pulling away in the second half for their 30th win: 100-88.