Pacers search for answers as Warriors roar into town
The Indiana Pacers get a chance to make a statement about the state of the franchise in the wake of Victor Oladipo's season-ending torn quad tendon when they host the NBA's hottest team, the Golden State Warriors, on Monday night.
The matchup comes at the end of Golden State's 11-day, five-game trip, during which they ran their NBA-best road winning streak to nine with a thrilling 115-111 victory at Boston on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, the Pacers were amplifying the fears of many fans when they played their first full game without Oladipo since December and were beaten 106-103 at Memphis against a team that had lost its previous eight games.
The Pacers posted their second-lowest point total since Dec. 19 and their third-lowest field goal percentage (43.2) since Dec. 18.
Both of those games came shortly after Oladipo returned from an 11-game absence due to what was then called a sore right knee. The Pacers went 7-4 in those games, making them now 7-5 without their leader in scoring (18.6) and steals (1.7), their No. 2 in assists (5.2) and their No. 4 in rebounds (5.6).
"It's a huge hit, but I've seen teams bounce back before when they lose their best player," said point guard Darren Collison. "It's going to be no different."
The Pacers inserted super-sub Tyreke Evans into Oladipo's starting spot Saturday and that didn't go particularly well. He was held to nine points after having scored in double figures off the bench in each of his previous seven games.
Meanwhile, the Indiana bench, which ranks ninth in the NBA in points per game (40.2) and third in field goal percentage (48.2), was limited to 34 points on 35.5 percent shooting.
The Warriors had offensive struggles against the Pacers while getting swept in the two-game season series last year. They averaged just 93.5 points in those contests.
But that was without all four of their 2018 All-Stars -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green -- in a 92-81 home loss in March, and still without Curry in a 126-106 defeat the last time they visited Indiana in April.
And now the Warriors have added a fifth 2018 All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins, who has contributed 13.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists to four straight wins since debuting for Golden State on Jan. 18.
He had 15 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes against Boston in a game that coach Steve Kerr labeled a "challenge" for his two-time defending champions.
"We needed to be challenged," he said of the matchup with a team that had won 10 in a row at home. "We were challenged big-time, and it could have gone either way."
The win was the 300th of Kerr's career in just 377 games as the Golden State coach, making him the fastest to reach the milestone in NBA history. Pat Riley held the previous record of 300 wins in 416 games.
The victory also gave Golden State a 10-game winning streak for a sixth consecutive season, a feat done previously only by the San Antonio Spurs from 2011-16.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 28, 2019