Indiana Pacers (34-9) at Los Angeles Lakers (16-29)
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tip: 10:30 p.m. EST/7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Check local listings
Line: IND -10.0
Tickets: Pacers @ Lakers tickets
Nothing is going to be easy in the Indiana Pacers’ fifth and final game of their Western Conference road trip, just as nothing has been easy through the first four games.
However, the Los Angeles Lakers might be one of, if not the most, unlucky teams in the NBA as far as injuries are concerned. Starting point guard Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) has sat out the majority of the season. Starting two-guard Jordan Farmar (hamstring tear) caught the injury bug. Same goes for reserves Steve Blake (torn ulnar collateral ligament) and Xavier Henry (right knee bone bruise).
Not to mention Kobe Bryant’s story. Bryant, one of the greatest of all time, tore his Achilles tendon last season, only to make his return this season before fracturing his left knee.
None of these talented Lakers will play tonight, leaving head coach Mike D’Antoni with a thin, depleted roster. This is an entirely different team than the one Indiana faced twice last year, featuring a Nash-Bryant-Dwight Howard trio.
Nevertheless, L.A. must pull together and compete tonight as they have all season. Not sure D’Antoni’s squad has been healthy for a single game in the 2013-14 season, as their record of 16-29 explains.
That is not to say the Indiana Pacers should take this team lightly. Doing that will result in an upset, with Indiana favored to win by 10 points at the Staples center. L.A. has four youngsters – Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Ryan Kelly – in the starting five with veteran Pau Gasol.
They are capable of scoring, but lack any kind of sustainable defense. That said, the Pacers need to jump on their prey early and look to pour it on and provide themselves with some confidence and momentum heading back to Indy.
Indiana’s guards, as well as Paul George, must attack the youth of the Lakers’ guards and forwards. Los Angeles has nobody that can block shots, so getting to the rim and drawing fouls is critical tonight.
The Indiana Pacers make it a clean sweep at the Staples Center this season, winning 105-89.