Pacers End 10-Game Road Losing Streak With Important Victory In Detroit
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers can finally celebrate a road victory again.
A weekly sweep of the Detroit Pistons was capped on Wednesday, with the Pacers once again relying on their big guys to end their 10-game road losing streak.
“We talked about trying to be road tough,” Nate McMillan said of the goal coming into Wednesday. “We wanted to come out and play well, and I thought the guys did from start to finish. Offensively, we didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but defense was able to help hold the lead.”
What the offense did do well on Wednesday was recover from an ugly 1st quarter, for both teams, and then pound the paint again.
Indiana outscored Detroit 62-36 in the paint, two nights after bettering the Pistons by 18 points in the paint in Monday’s victory.
The 108-89 victory for the Pacers ended an 11-game home win streak for the Pistons (39-39)
Thad Young led Indiana with 21 points. Bojan Bogdanovic (17 points) and Myles Turner (17 points) were the other Indiana starters in double figures.
With Darren Collison and Wesley Matthews out for a second straight game, the Pacers couldn’t rely on their backcourt for scoring, as starters Cory Joseph and Tyreke Evans combined to go 3-for-21 from the floor.
For a second straight game, the Pacers relied on necessary bench contributions to pull away from a Detroit-team playing without Blake Griffin again on Wednesday.
The Pacers and Pistons combined to score a mere 33 points in the first quarter on Wednesday (a 18-15 lead for Indiana), perhaps setting the game of basketball back a few years.
But Indiana scored 26, 34 and 30 points in the subsequent quarters, finding a much better offensive rhythm, even though they finished the game 6-of-21 from behind the arc.
“It was a team win,” McMillan said after the Pacers moved to 47-32 on the year. “Both the offense and the defense played well. For us, the challenge was facing Detroit again after getting the win in Indiana, and staying hungry. I thought our group came out, played hungry, played aggressive and both units played solid.”
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
-Bench Delivers Again: For the second straight game, the Pacers received key contributions off the bench. It’s been needed, too, with Darren Collison and Wesley Matthews sidelined for both Indiana victories this week. On Wednesday, Domantas Sabonis (15 points and 9 rebounds) sparked things early. But Doug McDermott (14 points on 6-of-7 shooting) and Aaron Holiday (7 points and 6 assists) were again very important cogs to Indiana maintaining their lead over the final three quarters. After a first quarter that no one should ever watch again, the Pacers reserves expanded a small lead and that cushion was retained throughout. A 9-0 run by mostly the second unit to end the third quarter was an important push to give Indiana 34 points in the third quarter. Just like McMillan did on Monday, the head coach stuck with Holiday (over Evans this time) deep into the 4th quarter.
-Road Losing Streak Is Over: Nate McMillan definitely slept better on Wednesday night after winning his first road game in more than a month. A 10-game losing streak on the road, the longest for the franchise in a decade, is over. The win itself on Wednesday was important. But the fact it came away from home removes a bit of a mental hurdle for the Pacers. They couldn’t go into next Wednesday’s regular season finale on the road carrying an 11-game road losing streak. The win in Detroit doesn’t cure all of Indiana’s road ails by any means. But it was a necessary box for this team to check as they head into the playoffs. Before Wednesday, February 23rd was the last road win for the Pacers.
-Friday For Homecourt: The Pacers (47-32) and Celtics (47-32) swept the Pistons and Heat, respectively, on Monday and Wednesday this week. That means the winner of Friday’s matchup in Indiana will control homecourt going into the final two games of the season. Even if the Pacers win on Friday, thus tying the season series at 2-2, the Celtics still win any head-to-head tiebreaker between these teams based off overall conference record. So, for the Pacers to get homecourt next week, they have to finish above the Celtics record wise. Friday inside of Bankers Life Fieldhouse should be reminiscent of the playoff-type of atmospheres felt earlier this season in games against the Bucks and Thunder.
Pacers Remaining Schedule
-Celtics (Friday, 4/5)
-Nets (Sunday, 4/7)
-at Hawks (Wednesday, 4/10)
Celtics Remaining Schedule
-at Pacers (Friday, 4/5)
-Magic (Sunday, 4/7)
-at Wizards (4/9)