Pacers will try to snap skid against one of NBA’s hottest teams
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers will try to snap a five-game losing streak and head into the All-Star break on a positive note when they host the surging Washington Wizards on Thursday.
Washington (33-21) won 17 of its last 20 games after Monday’s 120-98 victory over Oklahoma City. Indiana (29-27), meanwhile, tries to improve on its 3-8 record on the second night of a back-to-back after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers at home 113-104 on Wednesday.
“Anytime we got back in the game or got close, they were able to hit threes,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan told pacers.com. Indiana gave up 18 from 3-point range as the Cavs pulled away in the final quarter. That could prove to be a problem Thursday as the Wizards are fifth in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (37 percent).
Before the losing streak, the Pacers won seven straight games and looked like one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Not having starting power forward Thaddeus Young hurts. He missed the last seven games with a wrist injury and isn’t expected to play Thursday. Lavoy Allen, his main backup, also missed the last two games and is questionable for Thursday.
One of the losses during the slide came Friday night in Washington as the Wizards’ John Wall recorded 26 points and 14 assists in a 112-107 victory. This is the fourth meeting of the season with the home team winning each contest by six points or fewer.
Bradley Beal averages nearly 25 points in February. He scored 22 points in 23 minutes Monday.
“He’s having a great year,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told the Washington Post about Beal. “We just have to continue to get him better and have him improve his overall game. He’s one of those guys that should be better every year, and he’s only 23.”
This game is a test of averages versus trends. The Pacers are 20-9 at home this season but lost three straight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Wizards are 9-14 on the road but won their last four away from home.
Ian Mahinmi plays in Indianapolis for the first time since signing with Washington. He played the last four seasons with the Pacers and was hurt the last time the Wizards were in town.
If the playoffs started Thursday, this would be a first-round matchup.