Indiana Pacers (9-9) at Portland Trail Blazers (9-10)
Nov. 30, 2016, 7:00 PST
Watch: CSN NW, NBA TV; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Festus Ezeli (out), Al-Farouq Aminu (out)
Pacers injuries: Paul George (out), Kevin Seraphin (out), C.J. Miles (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Indy Cornrows
After a rare multi-day break in Portland, the Trail Blazers hope to climb back to .500 with a win against coach Nate “Sarge” McMillan and his visiting Indiana Pacers.
Indiana currently has a .500 record of its own after two blowout wins against the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers, despite missing superstar Paul George with a sore left ankle. George will not play against Portland, but Indiana still features a new look (read: faster-paced) team with some dangerous elements.
In particular, Indiana has seen young center Myles Turner and Glenn Robinson III, George’s temporary replacement, pick up the scoring load. Robinson III, averaging just over six points per game on the season, has put up 17 and 20 in the two games since George was shut down. He’s an athletic playmaker who has an adequate 3-point shot, but features very little in-between game, so fitting him in as a small-ball stretch four enables him to make the most of his skill set.
Myles Turner, one of the most promising young players in the game, is already an elite shot blocker and one of the better big men at finishing in the pick-and-roll. The fact that he has range nearly out to the 3-point line is just icing on the cake. Turner is putting up nearly 15 points and eight rebounds per game, along with more than two blocks a night, and is going to be a handful for Portland’s big men - able to punish the likes of Mason Plumlee down low, while sticking jumpers if Ed Davis and Meyers Leonard don’t step out to challenge.
Veteran point guard Jeff Teague, acquired in a three-way trade for George Hill, pushes the pace of play and makes an excellent pick-and-roll partner for Turner. Not a great perimeter shooter, Teague is explosive getting to the rim off of screens. Portland has been working on coming underneath screens for the last several days, and this match up is a perfect opportunity to put that concept into action. Teague averages 14.6 points, 6.8 assists, and more than two steals a night.
Veteran Monta Ellis, Teague’s partner in the backcourt, is having a typically streaky season - his 2-for-12 shooting night from the field in his team’s victory over the Clippers after a perfect 6-for-6 game against the Nets illustrates that contrast. Ellis has always been a volume shooter and, as such, has struggled as his usage rate decreases. He is, however, capable of getting hot and burying a team on any given night, though those instances are much fewer and farther between than they used to be.
Indiana’s supporting cast consists of starting small forward Thaddeus Young, and veteran reserves Rodney Stuckey and Al Jefferson. Young continues to be quietly efficient, putting up 12 points a night on 54 percent shooting, while Stuckey has seen a recent resurgence after picking up C.J. Miles’ minutes as he recovers from injury. Jefferson, now in his 13th season, has never been fleet of foot and now moves slower than ever, but still features some of the best low-post footwork in the league and can burn a team that can’t keep him honest in the paint.
After allowing nearly 129 points per game over their last three outings, Portland has focused exclusively on defense during their practice sessions. The team is clearly aware that what they are doing simply isn’t working, and they need to show immediate improvement on that end. While the Pacers aren’t an elite team, they have quick guards who are capable at getting to the rim and a strong big man who can score inside and out - opponents that Portland has struggles to contain.
The Blazers will be eager to right the ship at home, however, because after one more home game this week, they set out for another five-game trip, with eight of their next nine on the road.
Blazer’s Edge Night 2017
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