Pacers search for post-Oladipo win in Miami
The Indiana Pacers, who visit the Miami Heat on Saturday night, had the NBA's best record in December at 12-3.
Indiana then went 7-3 in January before All-Star guard Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending right-quadriceps injury. Since then, the Pacers have gone 0-4.
"When you lose your best player," Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford said, "your world changes."
Indeed, Oladipo was leading the Pacers in scoring (18.8) and steals (1.7). He also ranked second with 5.2 assists.
Pacers coach Nate McMillan said he talked to some of his counterparts around the league, and they told him they would do the right thing and vote for Oladipo as an All-Star, and that's exactly what happened.
"They kept their word," McMillan said. "Those coaches have a great deal of respect for how (Oladipo) plays."
The Pacers are hoping to get a boost on Saturday, when guard Tyreke Evans could return from a back injury. He has missed three consecutive games.
Evans is sixth on the team in scoring (10.9), and he adds 2.3 assists per game.
In Indiana's 107-100 loss to Orlando on Thursday, the Pacers got 27 points from Myles Turner and double-doubles from Thaddeus Young (16 rebounds, 10 rebounds) and Darren Collison (16 points, 10 assists).
But the Pacers were outscored 40-16 by Orlando's bench. Orlando also made seven more 3-pointers and grabbed six more rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Heat lost on Friday, 118-102, to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat got torched by Paul George (43 points), Russell Westbrook (fifth straight triple-double) and backup point guard Dennis Schroder (28 points).
"We're a better basketball team than we showed," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after losing to the Thunder. "This league can humble you."
Miami has lost three straight home games, and, if the Heat lose to the Pacers, that will send them on the road with the wrong kind of momentum for a six-game trip.
The Heat allowed the Thunder to shoot a sizzling 53.3 percent on 3-pointers (16 of 30), and Oklahoma City also had a 23-8 edge on fast-break points.
In other words, both the Heat and the Pacers are struggling, and both will be desperate for a win on Saturday.
The Pacers are 2-0 against the Heat this season, winning 110-102 on Nov. 9 and 99-91 one week later.
Of course, that was with Oladipo, who totaled 30 points in those two games.
Miami has also been without its 2018 All-Star point guard, Goran Dragic, who had knee surgery and is expected back later this month.
Spoelstra, though, is making no excuses.
"This is where you lean on your character and your culture and what you have in your locker room," he said on Friday night. "The majority of teams going through tough times -- it's how you respond.
"Things can change very quickly. We have a big game (against Indiana), and we have a chance to re-set. We have a resilient group. It's not like we have guys who will be hiding. We will get to work."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2019