INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers will host the Brooklyn Nets in their annual Black Friday tradition game. Both teams are off to slow starts, as the Pacers come in at 7-9 and the Nets enter at 4-10.
The Pacers have lost two straight after their impressive road win in Oklahoma City on Sunday. They fell to the Atlanta Hawks at home on Wednesday night, getting out-rebounded 56-37 in the contest.
"It’s a process," said point guard Jeff Teague. "We’re just now getting some guys back. We’ve got to try and figure it out."
Teague was referring to Paul George and Myles Turner, who both returned to the starting lineup after being out with injuries. C.J. Miles will still be out on Friday with knee soreness, and his presence off the bench has been missed. Against the Hawks, every starter was in the positive in the plus/minus stat, while every member of the second unit was in the negative.
Pacers teams of recent years were known for their toughness, rebounding and defense. This season’s new group is searching for all three.
"It’s going to take all five guys on the floor," Coach Nate McMillan said. "We’ve got to get stops. We need our guards to smash down on elite rebounders. When you’re taking the ball out of the net, it’s tough to get your running game going."
The Indiana crowd will get their first look at former Indiana Hoosiers star Yogi Ferrell. Since signing with the Nets earlier this month, Ferrell is averaging 5.3 points and 2.3 assists per game off the bench.
The Nets beat the Pacers 103-94 at home in their first match-up this season. "This team doesn’t necessarily have the names, but they play hard and they play together," George told NBA.com.
Brook Lopez led the way with 25 points. Jeremy Lin had 21 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but he will miss Friday’s game with a strained left hamstring. Caris LeVert will also miss the game with a left foot injury.
After starting the month of November with three wins in five games, the Nets have dropped their last five games. Four of those losses were by 19 points or more.
In the loss to Boston on Wednesday night, the Nets missed 16 of their first 22 shots, and finished the game at 39.5 percent from the field. Lately, they haven’t been strong on either end of the court.
"I think our defense dropped a little bit," Lopez said. "They hit some big shots, and it just got away from us."
Head coach Kenny Atkinson has also been concerned with the defense.
"Individual defense, guarding your man, we could do better," he said. "There are no excuses."
The turnover battle will be one to watch in this game. Both teams are in the top half of the NBA in turnovers forced, and points off turnovers.
The Pacers won three of the four games against Brooklyn last season, including both games at home.