Indiana earned a victory over perhaps its biggest roadblock to the NBA Finals its last time out. Before an impending rematch, the Pacers will try to stay focused with a pair of lesser opponents coming to town.
First up Friday night are the Charlotte Bobcats, losers of nine in a row at Indianapolis.
“We’re not going to let up,” Indiana forward David West told the team’s official website after Tuesday’s 90-84 victory over Miami. “We’ve got a smart group in here. I honestly don’t feel we’re playing …. all out. Guys’ minutes are down. We don’t have a 40-minute-a-night guy. I feel our best basketball is ahead of us.
“We’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing. I don’t think peaking too soon is going to be part of the conversation with this group.”
Roy Hibbert scored a game-high 24 points against the Heat. The center has scored in double figures in eight straight games after doing so in six of the first 14 contests.
“It’s just one game,” Hibbert said. “We’re going to learn from it. It’s a learning experience. It’s still early in the season. We have a lot more work to do.”
Indiana (19-3) held Miami to a season-low point total and a season-worst 4 of 21 from 3-point range. The stingy defensive effort followed a 3-2 road trip against Western Conference opponents in which the Pacers allowed 102.0 points per game. They are giving up an NBA-low 89.3 on the season.
The Pacers shot 50.7 percent to help overcome 21 turnovers, which tied a season high.
Danny Granger could further upgrade that offense – and provide Indiana with further motivation to get up for this game – if he returns. The forward has not played this season due to a strained left calf but said before Tuesday’s game that he’s eyeing Friday as a date to be on the court.
The Pacers won 99-74 in Charlotte on Nov. 27, their fourth straight victory over the Bobcats and 13th in 14 meetings.
Indiana has held Charlotte to 78.8 points in its last four home victories in the series – winning those by an average of 22.2 points – and is 10-0 at home this season, limiting opponents to 82.0 points and 37.2 percent shooting.
Detroit, loser of three in a row overall and 10 straight at Indianapolis, visits Monday before the Pacers head to Miami for next Wednesday’s contest.
The Bobcats (10-12) are right behind the Pacers in defense at 92.4 points allowed per game, but it was offense that continued to be the problem Wednesday in a 92-83 loss to Orlando that ended a two-game winning streak. Charlotte is shooting 41.2 percent overall and 29.2 percent from 3-point range, both worst in the league.
The Bobcats had looked much better in the two consecutive wins, averaging 110.0 points and shooting above 45 percent in both. However, they were outrebounded 52-41 by the Magic to lose that battle for the third straight game.
“I think our team for the most part all year, our effort has been exceptional. Tonight our readiness from our starters was poor,” coach Steve Clifford said. “… We got outworked on the glass … and for whatever reason tonight didn’t put the effort in, the physicality in, the things that are hard to do night in and night out. We didn’t want to do it tonight and it cost us.”
Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson went a combined 11 of 42 from the field.