The Thunder’s opening night blowout has us off to a good start in the Association this season. We either pushed or won with the Celtics, depending on if you got the hook or not, and won with Oklahoma City on Thursday. Tonight’s play feels like one of those loose numbers you only find in the first week of a new season, so my expectation is to stay undefeated.
The Indiana Pacers won’t be very good this season but their Head Coach Nate McMillan is adamant about at least scoring points. His magic number is 110; the top five teams in the league averaged at least 110 last season, so he wants his team to put up that many this season.
His intent is good and well but when you push a team without a lot of offensive firepower to score voluminously, there is a price to pay. In the case of the Pacers this season, the price appears to be the points allowed, which is just as important as the number of points you score.
Indiana put up what is, so far, a league-high 140 points in their opener against Brooklyn, but gave up 131 to a Nets team that will run but isn’t necessarily stocked with offensive talent. The Pacers only managed 96 last night in a bad shooting night at home without Myles Turner; they gave up 114 because of the quick pace, though.
The point is, so long as McMillan wills his players to push, they will; consequently, they will give up even more. That sort of style will make Indiana a team that will see some of the highest totals on the board, night to night. It was just a couple years ago that the Pacers neither scored, nor gave up many points and I’m not sure the boards have properly adjusted yet.
Indy will miss Turner’s scoring on the inside again tonight but his absence will also make things easier for Miami’s guards getting to the rim. Likewise, Hassan Whiteside will miss tonight with a knee bruise, which makes Miami much weaker on the defensive end without sacrificing much offense, if any at all.
Miami is already thin up front and may be forced to start Bam Adebayo in Whiteside’s place; either that, or go even smaller than they already do with Whiteside with James Johnson or Justise Winslow. Either way, Spolestra will have no choice but to use a lot of small ball.
The last point worth making is that Indiana is on the road, the second night of a back-to-back. Either they slow down or they keep the furious pace and sacrifice what little defensive intensity they play with to begin with. I’m betting on the latter and that the total flies over.
Free Pick: Over 212