A pair of Central Division opponents coming off poor defensive efforts on Friday night will match up on Saturday.
The Indiana Pacers will be seeking their first victory in their third consecutive home game after falling to the San Antonio Spurs 137-134. The Detroit Pistons won their home opener before getting thumped on the road by the New York Knicks 130-106.
“It’s a tough league,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “They’re going to be playing their third in four nights, same as us. We’re going to have to somehow take advantage of not traveling.”
Carlisle’s club allowed the Spurs to shoot 54.3 percent overall and 54.8 percent, 17 of 31, on 3-point attempts. The Spurs also shot twice as many free throws as the Pacers, 44-22.
“Defensively, we gave up too many threes,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to take a look at that and we’ve got to make adjustments there.”
Pacers center Myles Turner will miss his third straight game after sustaining a left ankle sprain. Indiana has sorely missed its interior defensive anchor and Carlisle might switch up his rotation to compensate.
“Myles Turner would help a lot,” he said. “The guy’s a hell of a player but he’s not available right now, so we’ve got to make adjustments. After two games of these kinds of starts, I’m going to look at the film closely and it may be time to tweak some things.”
Indiana trailed by 15 at halftime on Friday and couldn’t quite make up the deficit despite scoring 79 second-half points, including 49 in the final quarter. Guard Tyrese Haliburton finished with 27 points and 12 assists and the Pacers also got major contributions from rookies Bennedict Mathurin (26 points) and Andrew Nembhard (14 points).
“There are some things to build on here, like Nembhard’s performance,” Carlisle said. “He was terrific. He played like a veteran.”
The Pistons gave up 72 first-half points to New York and trailed by 20 at the break after missing 11 of 15 3-point attempts and 11 of 15 free-throw tries. They were unable to mount a serious second-half rally.
“There were stretches where we played good basketball and other stretches where they ambushed us, just their physicality and the speed of the game,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said. “We never adjusted to it. … They were playing at a high level and we never caught up to it, a great lesson for us.”
Saddiq Bey led the Pistons’ offense with 26 points and rookie Jaden Ivey supplied 17 points and nine assists in his second career game. The bench didn’t hold up its end of the bargain, shooting 8-for-29 from the field.
“I thought their second unit definitely outplayed our second unit,” Casey said.
Bojan Bogdanovic has certainly boosted Detroit’s starting lineup. Acquired from the Utah Jazz in a trade heading into training camp, Bogdanovic is averaging 21 points and shooting 60 percent from the field through his first two games with the Pistons.
However, the six other Detroit players who saw the most action Friday are in their first, second or third years in the league.
“I expected some of these hiccups as a young team,” Casey said. “We come out and look like we never played together before. Every night is a learning experience.”
The Pistons won the series last season 3-1.
–Field Level Media