The tottering LA Lakers will make their final stop of a so-far tumultuous five-game road trip to Gainbridge Fieldhouse for a match against the Indiana Pacers. If not for a Detroit Pistons collapse last Sunday, the Lakers could very well still be winless in their East Coast road swing.
The LA Lakers gave it their all in a marquee battle at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. But without the suspended LeBron James and the ailing Anthony Davis, they could just not pull the rug under the Knicks. They need to get themselves going against the resurgent Indiana Pacers for a chance to salvage something positive from their road schedule.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers have responded with two straight wins following the benching of their starting unit in the game against the Charlotte Hornets. If their win against the New Orleans Pelicans was expected, the win against the Chicago Bulls was something else.
While the Bulls were playing the second night of a back-to-back and it showed, the Indiana Pacers still displayed the potential of what the team can achieve. The team put in more effort on defense and rebounding, which were big reasons for the lopsided win against one of the best teams in the NBA.
Indiana will have to keep it up to defend its home floor against the LA Lakers.
Fixture: LA Lakers vs Indiana Pacers | 2021-22 NBA season.
Date & Time: Wednesday, November 24th; 7:00 PM ET (Thursday, November 25th; 5:30 AM IST).
Venue: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN.
LA Lakers Preview
The LA Lakers are only 2-5 in their last seven games and are 1-3 on their current road trip. They have looked out of sorts, disengaged and often lost.
LeBron James’ return will cover some of the holes, but it will not solve all of their problems. If Anthony Davis does not play after a terrible performance due to illness, they would be in another difficult situation.
Russell Westbrook played very well in their game against the Knicks, where he finished with a triple-double of 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. But he also had six TOs, which is partly why the LA Lakers are consistently out of sync on offense.
Frank Vogel’s team is 29th in the league in turnovers per game. The only team worse than them is the youthful Houston Rockets, who are clearly sacrificing this season by developing their young core.
In games where the LA Lakers won, they’ve either been better at taking care of the ball or just about even compared to the opposing team. With spacing and shooting issues hounding this team, avoiding turnovers becomes even more crucial.
Key Player - LeBron James
LeBron James will return from the first suspension of his career after an altercation with Isaiah Stewart last Sunday against the Detroit Pistons. The LA Lakers are 4-7 without the four-time MVP and 5-3 when he plays.
James is evidently still trying to find rhythm and consistency. Other than minutes played and turnovers, practically all of his stats are down compared to last season for the LA Lakers. Father Time could be catching up to him or he simply has to work out the early season kinks.
Despite the drop in his averages, James is still considered one of the top players in the league. His importance to the LA Lakers is not judged based on numbers alone. The Tinseltown squad is just different with a higher ceiling and lower floor when the King is around.
LA Lakers Predicted Lineup
G - Russell Westbrook | G - Talen Horton-Tucker | F - LeBron James | F - Anthony Davis | C - DeAndre Jordan.
Indiana Pacers Preview
The Indiana Pacers were in a three-game losing slump, including a disastrous performance against rival Charlotte Hornets. Rick Carlisle was so disgusted with his starters that he yanked them out of the game for most of the second half.
The move helped as Indiana managed to close the gap against the Hornets behind the hustle, energy and defense of the second-stringers.
Since that loss, the Pacers have beaten the New Orleans Pelicans and the Chicago Bulls. They have won both games by an average of 24.5 points with the starters doing the heavy damage. Behind the Indiana Pacers' starting unit, the team battered the Bulls 67-46 by the end of the first half. It was all cruise control from there.
Even without T.J. Warren, the Indiana Pacers are still potentially playoff-bound, with Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon leading the team. They need to sustain their defense and hustle to be a more consistent team that can challenge the best teams in the league.
The LA Lakers will pose another tough test for their resolve to improve on the gritty part of basketball.
Key Player - Domantas Sabonis
Domantas Sabonis has been the key player in the Indiana Pacers' two-game winning streak. In the team's game against the Bulls, he displayed his versatility with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds. He punctuated his performance with four assists and one steal.
The two-time All-Star was aggressive right from the opening tip, which set the tone for the Indiana Pacers. When Sabonis looks to do damage early and often, Indiana is a tougher team to defend against. His ability to create plays when defenses focus on him is such an underrated aspect of the Pacers' dynamics.
If Anthony Davis is sidelined or not 100%, the LA Lakers could be forced to put LeBron James on Sabonis to limit his impact.
Indiana Pacers Predicted Lineup
G - Malcolm Brogdon | G - Caris LeVert | F - Justin Holiday | F - Domantas Sabonis | C - Myles Turner.
Lakers vs Pacers Match Prediction
Even with LeBron James in the lineup, the LA Lakers still have a lot to figure out. If AD continues to be compromised the way he was against the Knicks, LBJ will have to do more lifting for the team to win.
LA will be in the second game of a back-to-back against the well-rested and surging Indiana Pacers. The Pacers could add another L to the Lakers’ record if they sustain their current form.
Where to watch the Lakers vs Pacers game
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The NBA League Pass will stream the game live. Bally Sports Indiana and Spectrum SportsNet will cover the matchup between the LA Lakers and the Indiana Pacers as it happens.