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Game Preview: Prepare for a race in Indy as Suns face frenetic Pacers

They play with pace, They score points. They’ll test the Suns, especially the bench unit.

Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Who: Phoenix Suns (26-18) @ Indiana Pacers (25-20)

When: 5:00pm AZ Time

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

Watch: 3TV and Arizona’s Family Sports

Listen: ESPN 620


Seems like just yesterday the Suns were playing the team with the highest points-per-game total in the NBA. You’re not too far off. Phoenix hosted Indiana just last week, downing the Pacers 117-110 behind a 40-point scoring effort by Kevin Durant.

Now the Suns are amidst a seven-game road trip, with a trip to the Railroad City serving as their second stop and first of six against Eastern Conference competition. The Suns, who had won four consecutive games entering their game against the Pacers, have now won seven in a row. That matches their season-high relative to win streaks. So, of their 26 wins, 14 have occurred as a part of a seven-game win streak.

Phoenix is clicking right now, and when one cylinder of their engine isn’t firing, someone is doing the work to ensure the others are. We’ve seen four consecutive games with a member of the Suns scoring 40 points or more, which can assist in masking team deficiencies.

The Pacers are on the other side and will be without Tyrese Haliburton for this one. That doesn’t mean they’re a pushover by any means. Just ask the Philadelphia 76ers last night. The Pacers ran the Sixers off the court, winning 134-122. They are a team that plays frenetic basketball at all times. They have the highest-scoring bench in the league and play with the second-fastest pace.

Put on your track shoes. This one should be fun.

Probable Starters

Injury Report

Suns:

  • Eric Gordeon - QUESTIONABLE (Wrist)
  • Bol Bol - OUT (Right Ankle Sprain)
  • Damion Lee - OUT (Right Meniscus Surgery)

Pacers:

  • Tyrese Haliburton - OUT (Hamstring)

Uniform Matchup

What to Watch For

The first thing we’ll all be watching for is whether or not a member of the team will drop a 40-piece. Both Devin Booker and Kevin Durant have provided efficient scoring masterpieces during the streak, and in a game that is sure to provide a high-point total, the odds are that it could happen again.

Perhaps it is Bradley Beal’s turn. Beal has yet to cross the 40-point threshold for the Suns. His highest scoring output was in the game that started the winning streak, a 127-109 in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Beal had 37 that evening as he hit 8 of 10 shots from three-point range.

The Pacers average 124.8 points a game. Like the Seven Seconds or Less Suns of yore, their best offensive strategy is to outhustle you, outrun you, and outshoot you. No team in the NBA takes more shots a night. Therefore, the Suns’ bench will be leaned on. During the Suns’ winning streak their bench has accounted for...checks numbers..20.3 points a night. 29th in the league. Yikes.

Key to a Suns Win

You don’t know how much of the Suns’ come-from-double-digits-down ability is a direct result of their coach’s philosophy and/or in-game adjustments, or if it is simply talent-based. Whatever the reasoning, the offense has been dynamic and during their winning streak and no deficit has been too small.

You know what would be nice? Not getting down big. I like the sound of that, don’t you? The Suns did this in their game on Sunday at home. The Pacers’ largest lead in that game? 2 points.

Let’s see that again.

The key to sustaining that, however, does come down to the production of the bench. Eric Gordon is questionable, but even he has struggled when playing. He has played his last 10 games coming off of the bench, and while he’s averaging 9.1 points, it’s his 30.8% from deep that is concerning.

Someone needs to take the reigns of the second-team unit and be the guy. Phoenix brought in numerous veteran minimum players who are young enough to be considered to be on “prove it” deals. Well. Prove it.

Prediction

A high-scoring affair might be in the cards here, despite the Pacers playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Per StatMuse, however, Indiana is 1-7 on the back end of B2B’s this year. What does that mean? Beal scores 41 points and the Suns win.

Suns 128, Pacers 119

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