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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Indiana Pacers Preview

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Portland looks to get their second win in a row at home against the frisky Pacers.

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (23-21) vs. Indiana Pacers (24-20)

Thursday, January 18th - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Pacers injuries: Myles Turner (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Indy Cornrows

The Blazers look to build up some momentum after handling the Phoenix Suns 118-111 in their last outing. Despite some fourth quarter issues, the Blazers were largely in control all night against the hapless Suns.

The Pacers are looking to go 3-0 on their West Coast trip with a win against Portland. After defeating Phoenix 120-97 on Sunday, Indiana took out the Utah Jazz 109-94 on Monday. The Pacers may have a bit of extra motivation as they try to make up for an early-season rout at the hands of the Blazers—they lost 114-96 in Indianapolis back on Oct. 20.

What to Watch For

Can the scorekeeper keep up? The Pacers score an average of 107.4 points per game and give up 106. The Blazers are averaging 113.1 points over their last nine games. Portland’s been pretty good defensively this year but has slipped in recent weeks. If both teams are on their game offensively, they might need to change the nets at halftime.

Can the Blazers slow down Victor Oladipo? Indiana gets balanced scoring with six players averaging double figures. Oladipo is the leader though by quite a margin, averaging 10.4 more points per game than his next-closest teammate. Not letting Oladipo carry the load and forcing other Pacers to step up is the most straightforward way of getting the upper hand against Indiana.

Bombs away. The Pacers have the third-best 3-point percentage in the NBA at 38.1 percent, while the Blazers come in fifth at 37.6 percent. The good news for Portland is they give up five fewer 3-point attempts per game than the Pacers. If the Blazers can chase the Pacers off the 3-point line while keeping up their own long-range attempts and percentage, Portland will be well on their way to earning the victory.

What They’re Saying

Clifton Robert of the IndyStar writes Victor Oladipo has found a home and is flourishing in Indianapolis:

Oladipo’s substance is a key ingredient in what the Pacers are trying to build, a team that can eventually contend for championships after it traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder in June, in exchange for Oladipo and center Domantas Sabonis.

The popular knee-jerk reaction to the trade was that the Pacers were fleeced. Who’s saying that now? Criticism of the deal gave Oladipo even more ammunition to make this his best season. His sunny disposition masks fierce determination, strengthened by rejection and doubters.

Scott Horner rounds up the mid-season grades for the Pacers, and they generally are quite good all things considered:

The fact that the Indiana Pacers are a mid-level team-- or a little better, depending on who is doing the ranking -- makes them the “NBA’s Biggest Surprise of the Season” to date. Most of the credit is directed at Victor Oladipo, who apparently has all but locked up one of the league’s top individual awards.

Here’s the report from around the nation.

(Read Indiana’s grades from writers from around the country by following the link above.)

Pacer fans have had a rough go over the last few year. C. Cooper of Indy Cornrows looks backwards and forwards—but mostly just enjoys the present:

It’s been a hard slog desperately in need of an injection of pure unadulterated fun.

And these Pacers have delivered.

From Lance Stephenson throwing fall-down passes and playing air guitar to Victor Oladipo draining multiple big, late-game shots and starting a post-game interview by charging himself with 10 self-punishing push-ups for a missed free throw, the Pacers have rallied from multiple 20-plus point deficits, they’ve been a viral meme waiting to happen, they’ve completely flipped the script on last summer’s largely panned trade, and they’ve had unexpected star power.

So, the fans have to be allowed to live a little.

BONUS: Listen to Dan and Tara, hosts of the Blazer’s Edge Podcast, talk to Caitlin Cooper from SB Nation’s Indy Cornrows about the parallels of the Blazers and Pacers.