The Pacers looked barely NBA caliber tonight, thus I will barely do a recap. It is the nice part of the back end of any NBA schedule, as the ones marked down as 'winnable' become even more probable as there are teams (like the Pacers) that at this point know they aren't making the playoffs. And worse yet aren't relying on some fringe hungrier players, perhaps more capable of a fluky 48 minutes. Even the Ronald Dupree - Paul Shirley Bulls (or the Wizards earlier this week) were able to look competitive once in a while because they cared enough to stay in the league. With a veteran high-paid team like Indiana it's not only not going to happen for them this year, but they know it.
So beyond a barrage of 3-pointers in the second quarter, there wound up being little to worry about tonight. I thought Taj and Deng were fantastic in overpowering the Pacers on the offensive glass and attacking the rim, and Rose had one of his most well-rounded games of the season, with 8 assists and 9 rebounds, taking over possessions the few times it was necessary.
One worry is the continued question mark of Noah's health, as he did not even play in the second half, likely because it wasn't required, but it wasn't as if he looked right in the first half either. I really don't see a good way out of this, and I suppose it's only good that this game wasn't requiring of his services (though the lead never got too large in the 4th to where the scrubs could come in). While all rest helps, it looks like only offseason rest will fix the guy.
Bigger game this Friday against Portland, who are famously banged up but did just beat the Raptors in Toronto tonight. Though just crushing these teams that have given up will be enough to make the playoffs, I'm excited to see them in some more tests, too.