It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors like to get out in transition and they employed that formula well the first time they saw the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana is hoping that having George Hill available – even at less than full strength – will help make a difference this time.
The NBA’s best team begins its longest road trip of the season Sunday evening in search of its first sweep of the Pacers since 2000-01.
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Golden State (43-9) leads the league in points per game (110.6), average fast-break points (21.3) and average points off turnovers (20.0). Indiana (22-33) lags considerably behind in those categories, averaging 96.0 points, 9.5 on the fast break and 14.2 off turnovers.
The Warriors also limit foes to 42.2 percent shooting for one of the league’s best marks.
"It’s pretty simple for us, defend like crazy, take care of the ball, move the ball," coach Steve Kerr said. "When we do that, we have enough weapons where we’re going to score enough points. That’s it, it’s a pretty simple game."
The first meeting was tied at halftime before Golden State pulled away for a 117-102 win Jan. 7. It enjoyed advantages of 28-11 in fast-break points and 22-7 in points off turnovers.
Klay Thompson scored 27 of his 40 points in the second half, which the Warriors opened on a 14-1 run.
The Pacers could be a more formidable opponent with Hill and Roy Hibbert on the court together. Hill, averaging 13.6 points, missed the first meeting with a strained left groin while Hibbert was limited to 5:39 after landing awkwardly while going for a rebound.
Coach Frank Vogel has been limiting Hill’s minutes. The starting guard made 2 of 8 shots for seven points in Friday’s 106-95 win at Philadelphia.
Indiana has a fresh concern in reserve Rodney Stuckey, who scored a season-high 30 points before leaving with a left ankle injury. Stuckey’s ankle was heavily bandaged after the game, though he insisted he’ll be fine.
”It happens, man,” he said. ”It’s part of the game. Now I just have to go get treatment for it and try to get ready to play Sunday.”
The Pacers have won five of six to move within range of a playoff spot in the mediocre Eastern Conference.
”The second half is important to us,” Stuckey said. ”We’re still in the playoff race. Our mindset is to make the playoffs and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Golden State begins a six-game trip against East foes with an NBA-best 16-2 mark against that conference. Although the Pacers are 7-17 against the West, that doesn’t mean the Warriors are taking anything for granted.
"It’s a tough road trip coming up regardless of the teams’ records, it’s a long time on the road so we’ve got to go out there and be professional and get some wins," center Andrew Bogut said.
Stephen Curry had 25 points and 11 assists and Thompson added 20 points in Golden State’s fourth straight win, 110-99 over San Antonio on Friday.
The Warriors have dropped 11 of their last 13 visits to Indiana, where they won 98-96 on March 4 on Thompson’s winning jumper over Hill with 0.6 seconds to go.