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INDIANAPOLIS – Three games in, the Indiana Pacers and T.J. Warren have this bubble thing figured out.

 

Playing their lone back-to-back of the Orlando bubble, the Pacers had one of their best first quarters in franchise history, and never looked back against the Magic.

 

It resulted in a 120-109 victory over Orlando.

 

On a back-to-back, the Pacers casually dropped a season-high 43 first-quarter points, as Warren was again the catalyst with 17 points in that period. The Pacers shot 17-of-24 in the first quarter, going 7-of-12 behind the arc.

 

Indiana’s double-digit cushion was never seriously threatened by a Magic team who had won their first two games in the bubble.

 

Warren’s incredible three-game run continued, as he led Indiana with 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting.

 

Tuesday was the first time Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon had played together since late February.

 

Oladipo returned after sitting out the front end of the back-to-back. He scored 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting, while playing 27 minutes. Brogdon had 8 of Indiana’s 30 assists.

 

Myles Turner hit 4 three-pointers and scored 21 points.

 

While the Pacers obviously miss Domantas Sabonis (foot), being forced to play small ball has greatly helped their offensive production.

 

The Pacers will now play every other day throughout their final 5 regular season games. Next up is a Thursday matchup with the Suns at 4:00 PM.

 

Three Things Learned

-Small Ball Beauty: With the injury to Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers are forced to go small, and Nate McMillan has gone all-in by inserting 6-0 guard Aaron Holiday into the starting lineup. What that has done is totally flip the offensive spacing and look to the Pacers. So far, so very good, on that end of the floor in Orlando. The Pacers have plenty of ball handlers, creators, and spacers to really open up driving lanes. All 5 guys on the floor are threats behind the arc, so that helps if opposing defenders are trying to help. Their turnover numbers have been one of the best of any team in Orlando. Tuesday was the first time we have seen Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon together in the starting lineup since late February. Obviously this is a pairing that the Pacers want to see more and more of as their backcourt of the future.

-T.J. Warren For Orlando MVP: The next time fans are inside of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, T.J. Warren’s jersey might be in the rafters. In all seriousness, this has gone from just a night to remember, to Warren now backing up his 53-point performance with 34 and 32 points, respectively. On Tuesday, Warren didn’t miss a shot from the field (8-of-8, 3-of-3 from behind the arc) in the first half, while scoring 21 points. Again, that’s in one half of basketball. I don’t think many expected players to return from this long break and see individual games ascend. Well, Warren has done exactly that, with an improved shot from deep, to complement his other nifty scoring repertoire. Warren has put together one of the greatest three-game runs of any player in Pacers history.

-Pacers Perfect In Orlando: Indiana is now 3-0 in the Orlando re-start, qualifying as one of the more impressive teams down there. Sure some will point to the first two wins as ‘Warren heroics’ and ‘The Wizards,’ but the Pacers are still 3-0, with injuries impacting all three games. The competition will unquestionably pick up next week, and obviously in the playoffs, as well. But the Indiana coaching staff and players deserve credit for the lack of rust they’ve shown, especially compared to other teams. The thought leading into Orlando was the Pacers had the makeup to handle Orlando life better than others. That’s been the case through the early stretch of games. What this strong start has done is put the Pacers into a position where they will likely avoid the Celtics and the 76ers in Round 1. That’s good news for the Pacers when talking about the best chance to win a 7-game series.

 

Pacers Regular Season Re-Start Schedule

-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 (54-14)

2. Toronto (48-18), 5.0 games back

3. Boston (44-22), 9.0 games back

4. Miami (42-25), 11.5 games back

5. Indiana (42-26), 12.0 games back

6. Philadelphia (40-27), 13.5 games back

7. Brooklyn (32-35), 21.5 games back

8. Orlando (32-36), 22.0 games back