Apr 6, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Oklahoma City 103-98. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: Indiana Pacers


Thunderous Intentions will begin to preview the 2012-13 NBA season by going through every team in the league and breaking down how they match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Be sure to check out the previous matchups we have previewed: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets.

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Indiana Pacers Team Overview

The Pacers took a big step forward last season finishing the year with a 42-24 record good for third in the Eastern Conference. They even took a 2-1 series advantage vs. the Heat in the second round of the playoffs while Chris Bosh was sidelined with an injury before losing in six games.

The Pacers’ future looks bright and they should be contending at the top of the East for the next few seasons at least.

This summer they re-signed Roy Hibbert, matching the max offer sheet that Portland offered him. This was a necessary move for the Pacers. It may seem like they overpaid Hibbert but there simply aren’t a lot of centers like him out there.

The Pacers also re-signed George Hill, drafted Miles Plumlee and Orlando Johnson, then signed free agents D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green. The Pacers also acquired Ian Mahinmi in a sign-and-trade with Dallas in which they traded away Darren Collison. The only other player Indiana lost from last year’s team was Dahntay Jones.

They had two questionable moves trading away Collison and only getting Mahinmi in return and drafting Plumlee so high in the first round seemed to make little sense.

The Pacers should still be one of the top teams in the East next year and with Boston’s decline, Chicago’s uncertainness and the fact that every other team in their conference is horrible, Indiana may end up with the 2-seed.

Last year

The Oklahoma City Thunder played the Pacers once last season and lost 103-98 on April 6 in Indiana.

The Pacers won despite Kevin Durant scoring 44 points and doing this to Hibbert. Durant made 15-of-24 field goals and 11-of-13 free throws in 44 minutes.

Russell Westbrook had 21 points, nine assists and 11 rebounds but on just 7-for-23 shooting. James Harden scored only 10 points and made just one field goal in the game.

The Thunder were 6-for-19 from three as a team and the Pacers had 18 offensive rebounds in the game.

Paul George had 16 rebounds and eight points. Danny Granger had 26 points and Roy Hibbert had 21 points and 12 rebounds (7 offensive).

The matchup

The Pacers had the 12th best offense in terms of points per possession last season. They were 7th best on spot-up plays and 9th best on post up plays, largely thanks to Hibbert and David West.

The Thunder were pretty good defending both though. The key to beating the Pacers is containing Hibbert which the Thunder did not do a very good job of in their regular season meeting.

An area where the Pacers need to improve is their pick-and-roll offense which was 18th best in the NBA last season.

The Pacers were very tough defensively last year, 8th best overall in the NBA in terms of PPP. They were 7th best vs. the pick-and-roll and 9th best vs. spot-up plays, two areas that are a sign of a very solid defense.

They were just 18th vs. isolation plays which is an area where the Thunder thrive, especially Durant who torched the Pacers for 44 in their one meeting.

Next year

The Thunder and Pacers will play twice next year first in Oklahoma City on Dec. 9 and then in Indiana April 5.

Both teams are on the rise and should make for good games each time. One interesting matchup will be two of the best up-and-coming shooting guards in Paul George and James Harden. It will be interesting to see which of these two becomes the next All-Star two-guard in the league.

The Thunder need a better game from Westbrook to beat Indiana and they need to do a better job inside. OKC was never at their best on the road last season and had they played Indiana at home, we would have seen how they match up with them a little bit better.

Tags: Indiana Pacers Oklahoma City Thunder