There couldn't have been a better restart to the season for the Indiana Pacers than this nail-biting comeback victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Pacers, who were already short handed with key players injury-ridden, saw T.J. Warren, who dropped a monstrous 53 points in the win, step up to the plate. The Pacers started as underdogs in the game, as their All-Star Domantas Sabonis has left the Orlando bubble with plantar fasciitis (knee) to seek treatment.
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid came back healthy after sitting out in two scrimmages with a power-packed 41 point, 21 rebound double-double, but it wasn't enough to seal the game.
The Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers were tied at 5th place in the Eastern Conference standings and delivered an absolute treat of a game, with the former emerging as victor in the season series.
Let's take a look at the talking points from the thrilling game between the Eastern Conference dark horses:
#1 T.J. Warren's career-high 53 points
T.J. Warren came in hot with 20-29 made FG, hitting 9-of-12 from the 3-pointer line. The former Pheonix Suns player, who was traded to the Pacers this off-season, put up a franchise record 19 first quarter points to start on fire.
Warren made the game closing three with 10 seconds remaining on the game clock to seal the game. He has gelled well in the Pacers offense and is averaging a good 18.7 points this season, but the Pacers are going to need more of these scoring streaks going into the post-season.
#2 Joel Embiid's All-Star worthy performance
Joel Embiid's start at Disney World has been a bit underwhelming since he sat out in two of the three scrimmages for the Philadelphia 76ers. As such, this season has been a tough one for Embiid as he had missed 21 of 65 games before the NBA came to halt due to multiple injuries and a suspension (due to a mid-game scuffle with Karl Anthony Towns).
But the All-Star big delivered big-time with 41 points, 21 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the re-start. He dominated the paint well against the Indiana Pacers, who had a hard time containing him.
#3 Indiana Pacers' injury troubles and defense
The Indiana Pacers are facing a tough time since half the unit is dealing with injuries. All-Star center Domantas Sabonis is out indefinitely, while Victor Oladipo is taking it one day at a time under minutes restrictions after his season-ending injury last year.
If the Indiana Pacers are to make a deep playoff run, they will have to deal with the injury situation carefully. This showed in today's game as Philadelphia 76ers dominated them offensively and defensively for most of the game.
#4 Philadelphia 76ers unit looks strong despite the loss
Despite the loss, the Philadelphia 76ers showed how the unit is determined and performing towards their grind to a championship. The power-packed Philadelphia 76ers delivered a fine performance that solidified their credentials as serious title contenders from the East.
Embiid closed out with a double-double, Tobias Harris contributed 30 points and 8 rebounds, and Ben Simmons added 19 points and 13 rebounds. Al Horford came off the bench to put up 10 points and 6 rebounds.
#5 Is Victor Oladipo playoffs-ready?
Oladipo played 32 minutes after being cleared by the coaching staff to play today's game. He scored 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, shooting 6-of-14 from the field.
He looked swift on the court but lacked the confidence which he usually poses offensively.
This comes after a season-ending injury last year and after playing only 13 games this season, Oladipo has managed to average 26 minutes and 13.8 points. He is undoubtedly a game-changer but has to decide how much his body can take, as he will have to push the Indiana Pacers through the playoffs.
Published 02 Aug 2020, 10:14 IST