Pacers out to sweep Nets, improve playoff positioning

After a one-sided result in Indianapolis on Monday, the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets will quickly put that game behind them and prepare for a rematch on Wednesday night in New York.

Brooklyn (29-47) will host the visiting Pacers in the regular-season series finale. Indiana (43-33) won two earlier meetings over the Nets at home by a combined margin of 43 points.

Despite winning both games in lopsided fashion, the Pacers are expecting a renewed effort from the Nets.

“We’ve got a real challenge on Wednesday, with the way (Monday night) went,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll have to be ready. (Brooklyn) will be ready. There were some emotions flying around and that kind of stuff. It’ll be a very good test.”

The Pacers have piled up 254 points on the Nets this season while shooting 49.5 percent through both wins.

They have overwhelmed the Nets with their pace and offense in the transition. On Monday, the Pacers set the tone from the opening tip and scored 75 first-half points.

Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 27 points and 13 assists, but much like the first meeting with Brooklyn this season, a total of six Indiana players scored in double figures to round out the balanced effort.

“I like our pace,” Indiana forward Pascal Siakam said. “The ball was moving. Obviously, when you’re making shots, obviously the offense is always going to look great, but I think one thing we did was continue to move the ball. Continue to attack the mismatches without stopping on offense. That’s when we’re dangerous.”

The Nets are hoping to avoid the season series sweep. Brooklyn is outside of the top 10 in the Eastern Conference standings and with the regular season winding down, a playoff appearance is unlikely. However, it can potentially deter the Pacers’ playoff plans.

Indiana is clinging to sixth in a tightly contested race and aims to climb higher to improve its seeding and avoid a play-in game. It has won each of its past two games and four of its past six.

Cam Thomas led the Nets in both meetings with the Pacers, scoring 22 points in each outing. Brooklyn coach Kevin Ollie is emphasizing defensive effort and adjusting to Indiana’s pace ahead of Wednesday night.

“It’s letting (the Pacers) get to the rim, creating paint touches and then kicking it out and then we’re scrambling and trying to get back,” Ollie said. “Give credit to them, they played their style of play. They are relentless at it.

“We need to understand that and can’t be surprised by the pace on Wednesday. They are going to try to do the same thing and I know our guys are going to be ready and give a better mental and physical battle.”

The Nets enter with back-to-back losses against the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana. In both games, they quickly fell into double-digit deficits after slow starts.

“We just have to have more guys getting to the rim and finishing down there,” Ollie said. “We’ve got to get back in transition. We have to have more sense of urgency in getting back on defense and then getting them to play in the half court.”


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