Portland Trail Blazers (12-11) vs. Indiana Pacers (12-10)
The Portland Trail Blazers play the Indiana Pacers tonight at the Moda Center, with a chance to pick up two wins in two days.
Last night, the Blazers prevailed in an exciting and hard-fought game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Behind 45 points from Anfernee Simons, the Blazers slipped past the Jazz by a score of 116-111.
The Pacers are on the fifth game of a seven-game road trip. So far they’ve defeated the Lakers on a buzzer-beater, but lost quite handily to the Clippers, Kings and Jazz. Last time out, the Pacers lost to the Jazz by a score of 139-119 on Friday.
As of this writing it is anticipated that Damian Lillard will be available. Unfortunately the Blazers injury list is still quite long with or without Dame on the court. Being shorthanded is not ideal on the second night of a road-home back-to-back.
Trail Blazers vs. Pacers - Sunday, December 4 - 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA TV, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Keon Johnson (out), Gary Payton II (out), Nassir Little (out)
INJURY UPDATE: Damian Lillard, Josh Hart and Drew Eubanks have all been upgraded to “active” for the game. The news comes courtesy of NBA insider Chris Haynes.
Pacers injuries: Daniel Theis (out), Chris Duarte (out), Tyrese Haliburton (questionable)
SBN Affiliate: Indy Cornrows
- Contender or lottery bound? By nearly any measure the Pacers have exceed all reasonable expectations. Currently in fifth place in the East, Indiana is at a crossroads. Everybody’s favorite trade-machine fodder has played pretty good basketball so far. Is that a good thing for the Pacers? Indiana is on a seven-game road trip and the results here might have an outsized impact on the rest of their season. They’ve already lost three of four; finishing one and seven might just encourage a few “injuries.” With teams bunched tightly from 12th to fourth place in the East, a losing streak could find them out of the playoff spots before they sleep in their own beds again.
- Close out. Only the Warriors, Celtics and Mavericks shoot more from deep than the Pacers. The small silver lining for Portland is that they’ll miss a bunch, but they still convert 35.7%, good for 13th in the NBA. The Blazers have been uneven in terms of their willingness and success at running off opponents from the arc this season, and have paid the price when they’ve left even poor shooters completely open. With the Pacers, you know they are going to shoot so you better get out there and provide some resistance.
- Fatigue. Indiana is in the midst of a seven-game road trip. The Blazers will have to sleep fast as they likely won’t get home much before midnight after playing an intense game on Saturday in Utah. The Pacers get the rest advantage, while the Blazers get to sleep in their own beds and will be able to draw some energy from the Moda Center crowd. And, knock on wood, perhaps the Blazers will get a boost from a hopefully-returning Damian Lillard. Time will tell, but whoever brings the most energy is likely to win the game.
What Others Are Saying
Bennedict Mathurin was awarded Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month. Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star details how he earned it.
In 21 games, Mathurin is second among all rookies and first among all NBA bench players in scoring (19.2 points per game), ninth in rebounding (4.0 per game), and 10th in assists (1.5 per game). The only rookie averaging more points than Mathurin, the No. 6 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, is Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the draft with 22.7 per game. Mathurin has the most total points (403), however, as Banchero has missed seven games with an ankle injury and played just 15.
Myles Turner is reportedly changing agents. Joe Lyon of 8 Points, 9 Seconds examines what this might mean for Turner’s future in Indianapolis.
The question for Indiana Pacers fans is what does this mean? Given that Turner has been in so many trade rumors not only this year but throughout his time in Indiana, this change should raise fans’ eyebrows across the Hoosier state.
Andrew Nembhard may have gotten on Blazers fans’ radar after his game winner against the Lakers, but the rookie is bringing it on the other end too according to C. Cooper of Indy Cornrows.
And yet, long before he buried the Lakers with a triple at the buzzer, bringing cause for raucous celebration from anyone and everyone (including Kevin Pritchard!), he was also making contributions at the other end of the floor — just as he has been doing all season. After all, in addition to his game-winning shot, he also has a game-winning stop, putting the clamps on Tyler Herro in isolation, when the Miami Heat opted not to send screen help.