For the second time in five days, the Golden State Warriors will see a team coming off a lengthy hiatus when they visit the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night in Indianapolis.
The Pacers haven’t played since Feb. 17, which could wind up being a good thing or a bad thing when they return from their weeklong break.
One thing that could work in their favor is they’ll be facing a Warriors club playing for the fourth and final time on a six-day trip. All three Golden State games in the past five days have gone to the wire, including the Warriors’ 114-106 victory in New York on Tuesday.
Golden State lost 102-100 on Saturday in Charlotte against a team that had been off for five days. The Hornets were rusty for three quarters, allowing the visitors to go up by as many as 10 points before Terry Rozier caught fire late amid a Warriors meltdown.
The Pacers and Warriors met on Jan. 12 in San Francisco under polar-opposite circumstances. On that night, Indiana was the side enduring a back-to-back on the road while Golden State was well rested, having spent two straight weeks at home.
The Pacers prevailed 104-95 that night, getting double-double production from big men Myles Turner (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Domantas Sabonis (18 points, 14 rebounds).
The Warriors entered that game with a two-game winning streak, which has been the kiss of death in a teeter-totter season. Golden State is 0-7 this season when attempting to win a third straight, but 5-0 when trying to snap a two-game losing skid, as it did Tuesday.
“It was a really good win,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the victory in New York. “This is what we’ve been doing all season. We haven’t lost three in a row. We’ve stemmed the tide over and over again. And as everyone knows, we haven’t won three in a row.
“I really believe we are close to breaking through. Given that we are healthy now and we have more options defensively, there’s no reason why we can’t break through and become the team that I believe we can be.”
Golden State will be playing on a second straight night but will be doing so with more available bodies than it has had in a while. On Tuesday, the Warriors got James Wiseman back from an 11-game absence caused by a sprained wrist, and Kevon Looney returned from a 10-game layoff prompted by a sprained ankle.
Also, Stephen Curry reappeared in New York to score 37 points after missing the Charlotte game with an illness, and Draymond Green bounced back effectively after his late ejection against the Hornets contributed to the narrow defeat.
Despite the time off, the Pacers still won’t have T.J. Warren (foot surgery) and Caris LeVert (kidney operation) when they play their first home game since Feb. 15.
Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren welcomed the unexpected time off — games against Houston (weather-related) and San Antonio (COVID-related) were postponed — to give his guys a break while also using additional practice time to fine-tune an offensive attack that already was one of the league’s best.
The Pacers have won three of their past four, averaging 120.5 points in those games.
“As the season goes along,” Bjorkgren noted during the break, “as we grow as a team, we can start adding more things to the offensive end and the defensive end.”
The Pacers figure to have a fired-up Sabonis on their side Wednesday. The double-double machine was snubbed when NBA All-Star bids were handed out this week, even after he had put up a triple-double (36 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists) as a lasting impression in his most recent game on Feb. 17 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
–Field Level Media