INDIANAPOLIS – The Pacers gave Nate McMillan a second straight bubble victory for his 56th birthday.
A big second half from T.J. Warren kept the Pacers in control of the worst team in the bubble, as Indiana beat the Wizards, 111-100 on Monday evening.
With the win, Indiana remains in the No. 5 spot of the Eastern Conference with six games left in the regular season.
Following his 53-point outburst on Saturday, Warren was outstanding again, with 34 points on 14-of-26 shooting and 11 rebounds. He had 16 of those in the third quarter, which led to Indiana building a 22-point lead.
Monday was the Orlando debut for Malcolm Brogdon (neck). It was a very Brogdon-like outing with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
After a sluggish start from Indiana, the Pacers started to assert themselves over the severely undermanned Wizards. It was a 20-2 Indiana run in the first half which quickly changed things heading into halftime.
Indiana appeared to be ready to rest its starters after a third-quarter explosion, but a sloppy 4th quarter led to the main guys playing a little too much for Nate McMillan’s liking.
Still, the Pacers held on for a double-digit victory.
The Pacers are currently in the midst of their lone back-to-back during their time in Orlando, as they meet the Magic on Tuesday night.
Victor Oladipo sat out Monday. Oladipo is expected to play on Tuesday against the Magic.
Three Things Learned
-Taking Care Of Business: Honestly, the Wizards have no business being in Orlando. Still, the Pacers needed to handle their business as they try to make sure they secure that top-5 seed. After a sluggish first couple of quarters, the Pacers did just that. With six games to go in the regular season finish, the Pacers are in position to play Miami in Round 1 of the playoffs. That’s the matchup best suited for this team to try and win their first playoff series in 5 seasons. These first two wins in Orlando for the Pacers is a reminder of the job Nate McMillan has done this season, amidst a slew of different lineups due to injury.
-Quality Minutes From Aaron Holiday: Leading into the Orlando re-start, we talked about the opportunity likely coming for Aaron Holiday. With the injury situations to Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon, the younger Holiday’s role has varied depending on whether he’s primarily been handling the ball as the point guard, or with more of a scoring mindset off the ball. In two games in Orlando, Holiday has handled both of those jobs quite well. It was the point guard on Saturday (Holiday had 10 assists). It was off the ball on Monday (Holiday had 11 first-half points and 17 for the game). There’s been some ups and downs from Holiday this season, but he also hasn’t been thrown into the most consistent situations. Nevertheless, the Pacers have gotten some much-needed spark from him in Orlando. That will be key to go on any potential run down there, and certainly for the franchise moving forward.
-Victor Oladipo Sits: Like the Pacers did earlier this year with Oladipo, they are still not having him play in back-to-backs. Oladipo sat out the Wizards game, which made sense given Brogdon being back in the lineup, and this being the ‘easiest’ on paper matchup of any Orlando bubble opponent. Oladipo is expected to play on Tuesday night against the Magic. Given that the Pacers are not projected to have another back-to-back throughout their time in Orlando, it’s possible Oladipo will play in every single one of the team’s remaining games. Of course, that backcourt duo of Oladipo and Brogdon have still only started together in 10 of 69 games this season. Will Tuesday be their first start together since February 29th against Cleveland?
Pacers Regular Season Re-Start Schedule
-Magic, 8/4 (Tuesday), 6:00 PM
-Suns, 8/6 (Thursday), 4:00 PM
-Lakers, 8/8 (Saturday), 6:00 PM
-Heat, 8/10 (Monday), 8:00 PM
-Rockets, 8/12 (Wednesday), 4:00 PM
-Heat, 8/14 (Friday), TBD
Current Eastern Conference Standings
1. Milwaukee (54-13)
2. Toronto (48-18), 5.0 games back
3. Boston (44-22), 9.5 games back
4. Miami (42-25), 12.0 games back
5. Indiana (41-26), 13.0 games back
6. Philadelphia (39-27), 14.5 games back
7. Orlando (32-35), 22 games back
8. Brooklyn (31-35), 22.5 games back