The Indiana Pacers (30-25) could once again be significantly shorthanded heading into their trip to New Orleans as they may be without their starting backcourt of Darren Collison and Victor Oladipo. Collison is out for two or three weeks following a knee scope, while Oladipo has been slowed by illness. Both were not in the lineup for their most recent game against the Washington Wizards, which they lost 111-102.
Bojan Bogdanovic carried the scoring load in the absence of Dipo and Collison. The Croatian finished with 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Lance Stephenson struggled from the field, but did still have nine rebounds and six assists to go with his 13 points. Meanwhile, Joe Young and Domantas Sabonis combined for 32 points off the Pacers bench.
The Pacers now head to New Orleans to face the struggling Pelicans (28-25), who have dropped to just 1-4 since DeMarcus Cousins’ injury. They were the most recent victims of the Utah Jazz, who demolished them 133-109 at home. Jrue Holiday had 28 points to lead the Pelicans, while Rajon Rondo scored double-digits for the first time in close to a month as he finished with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting with four 3-pointers and eight assists.
However, the Pelicans frontcourt let them down. Anthony Davis had an uncharacteristically quiet game with just 15 points and 11 rebounds. And after a strong 18-point, 12-rebound debut, Nikola Mirotic was limited to just five points in 33 minutes.
Three keys to the game
Victor Oladipo’s availability - Oladipo missed out against the Wizards due to illness and also missed practice. His potential absence would once again be a big blow for the Pacers. With him and Collison both out, the Pacers lose a great deal of their playmaking. Lance Stephenson can carry some of the load, but they’ll need more on the offensive side to overcome their absence.
Pelicans offense - The Pelicans offense has fallen off a cliff since Cousins went down. They haven’t been nearly the top-ten ranked unit they’ve been for most of the season. But with Oladipo potentially sidelined, the Pelicans will have a better chance of outgunning the Pacers, who also possess a subpar defense.
Bench battle - Neither team has much of a bench to write home about. However, the Pacers will need theirs to deliver without Dipo. Sabonis and Young showed against the Wizards what they’re potentially capable of. However, it remains to be seen if Young’s outburst is replicable. If it is, the Pelicans could also do with some unexpected production from their reserves.
Matchup to watch
Myles Turner vs Anthony Davis - After a promising three-game spell, Turner has gone back to not looking good in his last two games as he continues to struggle with a knee injury. He now has the tough task of having to go up against arguably the most talented big man in the league in Davis. If he’s still not back to full strength, it could end up being a long night for the Pacers big man.
Pacers projected starting lineup
PG - Cory Joseph | SG - Lance Stephenson | SF - Bojan Bogdanovic | PF - Thaddeus Young | C - Myles Turner
Pelicans projected starting lineup
PG - Rajon Rondo | SG - Jrue Holiday | SF - E’Twaun Moore | PF - Nikola Mirotic | C - Anthony Davis
If Oladipo is indeed out, Stephenson instantly becomes a top target for fantasy. He’s generally been able to capitalize on his opportunity to play a bigger role whenever Dipo has been missing. He will have a great matchup to do so again given the Pelicans’ subpar perimeter defense.
As for the Pelicans, Davis, Mirotic, and Holiday could all come out with massive fantasy performances against the Pacers. Mirotic, in particular, will have the chance to bounce back from his rough second game as he goes up against a Pacers team that has been among the worst at stopping opposing power forwards.
If Oladipo winds up playing, the Pacers have a chance of getting the road win. The Pelicans have just been that bad since Boogie went down. But with no Dipo and Collison, the Pelicans should really be able to take care of business at home.
The Pacers opt not to play Oladipo which benefits the Pelicans, who get the much-needed 112-103 win.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports New Orleans and Fox Sports Indiana. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.