Pacers stand pat, start stretch run vs. Grizzlies

INDIANAPOLIS — With the All-Star Break and Trading Deadline passed, the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies will go back to work on Friday night in Indianapolis. These teams each come in as the No. 6-seed in their respective conferences.

Trade speculation surrounded the Pacers all week, but Larry Bird and company ended up staying pat.

“These are my guys,” Paul George told pacers.com. “We’re going to work to get ready for the second half of the season.”

Indiana (29-28) desperately needed the break, as they lost six straight games before the time off. They’re hoping to get starter Thaddeus Young back on Friday night. He went through 5-on-5 drills in practice on Thursday, and is listed as questionable with a sprained left wrist. His backup Lavoy Allen is also questionable with a sore right knee.

“We have to be better,” said Pacers Coach Nate McMillan. “We lost six games. Of course it was against some tough teams, but it showed us we are not where we need to be. Our focus is on getting better and getting ourselves prepared for Memphis.”

The Pacers have given up 116 points per game during their six-game losing streak. Their tough recent schedule won’t be letting up anytime soon. After playing the Grizzlies, they’ll hit the road for five straight games, including trips to Houston, San Antonio, and Atlanta.

Indiana has struggled rebounding the ball this season. They are 28th in the NBA, while the Grizzlies are 9th.

Memphis (34-24) also stood pat at the trading deadline. They have won seven of their last 10 games, as they look to climb the standings in the Western Conference. They’ve held their own on the road this season, going 16-13 away from home.

“Overall, I’m really happy with this team,” Coach David Fizdale told The Commercial Appeal. “We’ve shown that we can compete with the best. With what we have, if we continue to build chemistry and guys get stronger, I’d like to see where this team ends up.”

Their first challenge will be against a Pacers team that is 20-10 on their home floor. “We know they’re a capable team,” Mike Conley told nba.com. “We have to be prepared for them because they’re capable of being one of the elite teams in the East. We have to make sure we have our minds right and are focused.”

The Grizzlies have struggled against the Eastern Conference this season. They are just 10-11 against the East, compared to 24-13 against the West.

Memphis has had some struggles on offense (20th in Offensive rating), while the Pacers have struggled on defense (19th in defensive rating).

There will be a lot of Indiana connections in action for this game. For the Pacers, Jeff Teague and Glenn Robinson III grew up in Indiana, while Mike Conley Jr. and Zach Randolph are hometown guys themselves.

It will be the first meeting between these two teams this season. They will play again in Memphis on March 29th. The Grizzlies have won the last five match-ups against the Pacers.