Take II: Pacers aim to take make-up game frustration out on Pelicans

Nate McMillan surveyed the scene, then went back to the coach’s locker room to watch more film. Thad Young took his game uniform off as he knew the game was never going to be played. Victor Oladipo hung around the locker room, and later joked that he considered returning to the court with an umbrella.

Singing in the rain.

The Pacers are back in New Orleans Wednesday to play a game that was supposed to tip-off on Feb. 7, only it never did. A leak in the roof caused concern for an area on the hardwood inside the Smoothie King Center — it was renovated in 2014 — and after a 74-minute delay, the teams agreed to postpone the game.

This was different. This was new. A rain delay … in basketball.

While the travel is easier than the average person, flying on a chartered plane and staying at the 5-star Ritz-Carlton, the demands of the league adds up over the course of a season. This will be Game 72 of the season with just ten more regular-season games to play.

Nate McMillan, Pacers

Nate McMillan talks with reporters.

Beyond that, it’s not a throwaway game for either team with playoff qualification and seeding on the line. It will be the second of three games in a row for the Pelicans, who beat Dallas on Tuesday and host the Lakers on Thursday. For the Pacers, it interrupted — okay, ruined — what would have been their longest break between games after the All-Star break.

“It’s a challenge for everybody,” McMillan said before leaving for New Orleans on Tuesday. “What we try to do is focus on ourselves and try to manage our guys to keep them fresh and ready to go.”

McMillan met with the team’s medical staff and strength coach to discuss a strategy going into a busy March. They have only held a handful of practices over the last month and their limited shootaround time is time spent preparing for that night’s opponent.

“It does force us to have to play every other day but that’s pretty much a good scenario for us, all things considered,” McMillan said after the rescheduled date was announced. “It happened in their building so they have to pay the price.”

If the Pacers had those three days between games, it would have meant one day off.

“I don’t think I’ve given two days off, ever,” McMillan said with a grin.

Instead, the Pacers have a game at least every other day in March.

“Ah, man. So we definitely was mad,” Stephenson said of losing an off day. “We were just talking about that because we were supposed to have a day off. We’re going to go whoop New Orleans.”

The Pacers’ health is much better this time around. Back on Feb. 7, Darren Collison just had left knee surgery and Oladipo missed their previous game due to illness. He was going to play, but he didn’t feel great.

“I was still messed up,” said Oladipo, whose left eye is red but feels fine. He said he’s the new Blade. “I remember like it was yesterday. … That was beneficial for me. I was struggling a little bit.”

The Pelicans, also 41-30, are fifth in the Western Conference despite losing DeMarcus Cousins for the season due to a torn Achilles. Anthony Davis is playing at an All-NBA level, averaging 28.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

And Jrue Holiday, who is married to Ben Davis High School product Lauren Cheney, is having perhaps his best season of his career. He’s been worth an average of 19.1 points and 5.9 assists per game, though he missed his first game of the season Tuesday due to illness.

“Jrue Holiday is plying really well for them,” said McMillan, whose son is an assistant for the Pelicans. “They’ve been able to keep themselves in the race so we know that it’s going to be another challenge. They got us here and we need to, again, take road toughness out there.”

Holiday is listed as questionable and former Pacer Solomon Hill, who recently made his season debut after suffering a hamstring tear in the offseason, will sit out for rest as they manage his return.

For the Pacers, Domantas Sabonis remains out with a left ankle sprain. He participated in four-on-four work Tuesday but is not quite ready to return.

The game will tip-off just after 8:00 pm on FOX Sports Indiana.

“We’re going to take everything out on them,” Stephenson said playfully.

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://vigilantsports.com/take-ii-pacers-aim-to-take-make-up-game-frustration-out-on-pelicans/trackback/