NBA: Surging teams meet when Pacers face Timberwolves
The Indiana Pacers will seek their sixth consecutive win and eighth in the past nine games on Wednesday night when they welcome the surging Minnesota Timberwolves to Indianapolis.
The Pacers extended their hot run to five straight wins with their second defeat of the Orlando Magic in as many games, 123-102 on Monday. The rout marked a significant reversal from Indiana’s one-point win in Saturday’s matchup against Orlando.
A Pacers bench that has been a strength through the team’s first month produced 71 points on Monday, including a season-high 19 from T.J. McConnell, who also had 10 assists.
“We’ve just got great people who are good teammates and want the next guy to succeed,” McConnell said. “And we do that at a high level: Make the extra pass, covering for each other on defense. And we’ve got a lot of young guys who get out and run, and I think we just kind of take people by surprise.”
Indiana’s success is one of the more surprising developments early in the season, thanks in part to the emergence of rookie reserve Bennedict Mathurin.
Mathurin’s average of 19.3 points per game are second on the team behind only Tyrese Haliburton’s 20.4. Haliburton also leads the league with 10.7 assists per game.
Both Haliburton’s lofty assist numbers, and Indiana boasting four players averaging more than 17 points per game, reflect the team’s successful ball movement. The Pacers rank second in the NBA in assists entering play Tuesday at 22.1 per game and are in the league’s top five for scoring offense (116.8 points).
Minnesota, meanwhile, brings a four-game winning streak into Indiana. The Timberwolves’ run has combined improved offensive efficiency, with Minnesota producing two of its four highest-scoring games of the season in the streak’s first two outings, and tough defense.
The Timberwolves have held each of their past three opponents to less than 110 points, including limiting Miami to 101 in a four-point Minnesota win on Monday.
The Heat’s 101 points were the fewest the Timberwolves have surrendered in a game this season.
Anthony Edwards told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Monday was a “tough game, ugly game,” but added, “It was a great win and a great team win.”
Monday was the lone home-game interlude for Minnesota in a stretch playing six of seven games on the road. Wednesday’s visit to Indiana marks the penultimate road contest in this span, with a Friday trip to Charlotte as the last game before the Timberwolves play four of five at home.
As Minnesota looks to continue building on its recent run of success, a stark contrast from the preceding seven games when the Timberwolves dropped six decisions, team newcomer Rudy Gobert detailed the roster’s continuing effort to develop chemistry.
“Everyone feels like they can give more, they can prove more, do more, but it’s part of the luxury and sacrifices of people trying to accomplish something, trying to win something,” he said.
–Field Level Media