Monday features a battle of 4th place teams on the NBA docket when the Indiana Pacers (44-26, 4th in the Eastern Conference) travel to the Moda Center to take on the Portland Trail Blazers (42-27, 4th place in the Western Conference). This will be the second time these two have matched up this season with Portland taking the first round 103-93 way back on October 29th. In that matchup, C.J. McCollum and Zach Collins each had 17 in the win while Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 21. Oh, how time can change things, though. For the Pacers, Oladipo is now out for the season after suffering a ruptured quad tendon back on January 23rd. For the Trail Blazers, they may be without CJ McCollum as he left their last game against the Spurs with a knee injury and is due for an MRI. Still, the show must go on, and these two will match up Monday with tipoff scheduled for 10:30 pm ET.
Coming into this one, Indiana has gone 4-4 in their last 8 games including a 102-100 loss against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Currently a game in front of the Celtics and a half game behind the 76ers, they would like to find some consistency to make one last push heading into the postseason. For the Trail Blazers, they are also 4-4 in their last 8 games. They had actually won three in a row before losing to the Spurs, 108-103, on Saturday. Possibly facing life without CJ McCollum, it will be interesting to see who steps up moving forward for Portland.
In the matchup, the Portland Trail Blazers come in as 3.5-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for this game is set at 213.5 points.
By The Numbers
The Portland Trail Blazers have had a really nice season thus far battling in a tough Western Conference. They currently rank 8th in scoring (114 points per game) and 13th in field goal percentage (shooting 46.4% from the field). They are even better from outside, where they are shooting 35.8% (8th overall). They also hit the boards well, averaging 47.9 rebounds per game (3rd in the NBA). Of those 47.9, they are averaging 11.6 offensive rebounds (5th) and 36.3 defensive rebounds (also 5th).
For the Indiana Pacers, they come in much lower offensively, averaging 108 points per game (good for 21st in the league). Despite the lower scoring total, they do shoot it well from the outside (37.2% which is good for 5th in the NBA). They also have a knack for creating turnovers as they rank 3rd in steals (8.8 per game) while also taking care of the ball themselves (they average 13.7 turnovers per game which is 10th lowest).
Indiana Hoping To Split Season Series
As we are approaching just single-digit games left, Indiana knows that every game is important. Pacers’ coach Nate McMillan has done a nice job keeping his team competitive in the East despite losing Victor Oladipo for the season. Whether they have enough to go far in the playoffs is a different question, but McMillan at least has them in the thick of things as the season winds down.
Leading the way for the Pacers this season has been forward Bojan Bogdanovic. On the season, he is averaging 17.8 points on 49.6% shooting, including 42.1% from behind the arc. He is also averaging 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
What is truly remarkable about the Pacers is how deep they are in scoring. Beyond Bogdanovic, they have five other players averaging double-digits. Darren Collison (11.3 points, 6 assists), Wesley Matthews (12.7 points), Domantas Sabonis (14.3 points, 9.1 rebounds), Myles Turner (13.1 points, 7 rebounds) and Thaddeus Young (12.6 points, 6.4 rebounds) have all had nice seasons.
Trail Blazers Look To Fill The Void If McCollum Is Out
While there is no firm prognosis at the time of this writing, even if McCollum avoids major injury it is likely that he will sit out of this one. That could be a huge blow to the Trail Blazers as McCollum is averaging 21.3 points per game to go along with 4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. It might put even more pressure on star guard Damian Lillard. On the season, Lillard is averaging 26.1 points per game on 45% shooting. He is also chipping in 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Outside of these two, Jusuf Nurkic has been having a really nice season. He is averaging a double-double with 15.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He is also chipping in 3.3 assists and 1 steal per game. The other top scorers include Enes Kanter (13.2 points, 9.8 rebounds on the season), Rodney Hood (11.3 points), and Al-Farouq Aminu (9.1 points, 7.6 rebounds).
Indiana Gets Its Revenge
It is never an easy task to replace a starter, but it becomes even more challenging when that starter is averaging about a fifth of your total points per game. If McCollum is out for a significant amount of time, the Trail Blazers could see some hiccups as they try to adjust their lineups and feel out for who will step up on the offensive side. Really, this game comes down to depth for me and while I already prefer the depth of Indiana, if McCollum is out that is just intensified. For my money, I am taking the Pacers and the 3.5 points.