After a tough pair of games against the 76ers, the Pacers (25-56) will look to end their season on a high when they take on the Brooklyn Nets (43-38) on Sunday afternoon. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN as Indiana looks to snap Brooklyn’s three-game winning streak.
A topsy-turvy season will come to an end for the Pacers after Sunday’s fight. But they have a chance to play with the qualifying tournament standings if they win. The Nets sit in the seventh seed — tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the Pacers steal a win and the Cavs beat Milwaukee, the standings would swing. If both teams lose, Atlanta and Charlotte have a chance to move up into the top seeds.
Sunday’s morning game will also allow a wide audience to see a glimpse of the Pacers’ future. Tyrese Haliburton shone again for Indiana on Saturday, recording 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He also had nine assists. Additionally, Isaiah Jackson played spectacularly against Joel Embiid and had 16 points in 30:28.
While the Nets are hoping for a high seed, they will most likely roll out their star roster against the Blue & Gold. Kevin Durant (30.1 points, 74, rebounds, 6.2 assists per game) and Kyrie Irving (27.2 points) will provide Haliburton and Oshae Brissett with a tough defensive challenge. Seth Curry also shone for Brooklyn, averaging 42.2% from three. He and Buddy Hield (36.6 percent from 3-point range) could face off on Sunday, which would give fans an exciting sight on the final day of the NBA regular season.
Pacers: PG – TJ McConnell, SG – Tyrese Haliburton, SF – Buddy Hield, PF – Oshae Brissett, C – Isaiah Jackson
Nets: PG – Kyrie Irving, SG – Seth Curry, SF – Bruce Brown, PF – Kevin Durant, C – Andre Drummond
Pacers: Goga Bitadze – questionable (painful right foot), Malcolm Brogdon – questionable (painful lower back), Jalen Smith – questionable (painful left groin), Chris Duarte – out (painful left toe), Nate Hinton – out (health protocols and safety), Ricky Rubio – out (torn left ACL), Myles Turner – out (left foot stress reaction), TJ Warren – out (left navicular fracture)
Nets: Goran Dragic – out (health and safety protocols), Joe Harris – out (left ankle surgery), Ben Simmons – out (competition reconditioning/back pain)
January 5, 2022: When these teams last met, all eyes were on Pacers folk legend Lance Stephenson for his first game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. And the guard proved he was “born ready” by putting on a show for the fans. The 31-year-old dropped 20 points in the first quarter en route to setting a new career high of 30 points for the Pacers. The start gave Indiana a 19-point advantage over the heavily favored Nets early in the contest.
Unfortunately, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have proven why they rank among the best NBA players of this era. The trio helped Brooklyn rally in the second half and pull away late for a 129-121 victory.
But Stephenson gave all Pacer fans extreme joy despite the loss. The now 10-year-old NBA veteran breathed new life into a desperately needed Pacers team. He entered the game with 6:23 left in the first quarter, a standing ovation behind him, and never looked back. He stopped and drilled a 3-pointer at 5:11 to start his scoring streak.
He earned the Pacers franchise record for scoring in the first quarter, finishing the stanza 8 of 9 from the field and 4 of 5 from deep. That helped earn Indiana a 73-60 halftime lead.
But Brooklyn closed the gap in the third quarter to single digits. In the fourth quarter, Irving capped an eventual 25-5 run with a pair of jumpers. Brooklyn led 111-106. Indiana cut the gap to three with 3:54 remaining on a Domantas Sabonis triple. Unfortunately, they never came close to that again for the game. Sabonis finished with a team-high 32 points for the Blue & Gold.
- Indiana is looking to avoid a 10-game losing streak.
- The Pacers have lost six straight games against the Nets.
- Nets guard Seth Curry played under Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle for two seasons when Carlisle was the Mavs head coach (2016-17 and 2019-20).
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TV & Radio Listings Broadcast Information »
TV: Bally Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play by play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (studio host)
ESPN – Mark Jones (play by play), Jeff Van Gundy (analyst)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan – Mark Boyle (game by game), Pat Boylan (studio host)