The Lakers head to Indiana on Tuesday for a match-up against the Pacers. The game, scheduled for 4 PM PST on TWCSN, promises to be a tough one for the Purple and Gold, but in three games against playoff-caliber teams, they have shown that they are up to the challenge.
LAL will have to find a way to slow down the Pacers’ two most dynamic players: Paul George and Myles Turner. George is clearly the star of the team and the Pacers go as he goes. An elite two-way weapon, PG13 has the ability to take over games on either end.
But the Pacers have given him a great sidekick in Turner. The Texas product came out of nowhere last season as one of the best rookies in a loaded draft class. He has continued that play into his sophomore year, showcasing his rim-protection, pick-and-roll ability, and his extended range.
The Lakers bigs will have to find a way to slow down Turner, but that may be easier said than done. Timofey Mozgov and company gave up 14 points and 12 rebounds to Thunder center Steven Adams. The big man was able to get free for multiple easy buckets as Mozgov tried to contain Russell Westbrook’s drives and no one helped him cover his man. That will have to change if the Lakers hope to keep Turner quiet.
Of course, head coach Luke Walton may opt to put Julius Randle on the Pacers’ starting center, instead. Randle would have an easier time containing Turner on the perimeter, where he can be just as deadly. Turner has not shot the ball well from behind the arc thus far (25 percent in three games) but he shows the confidence to let it fly from out there.
By sticking Randle on him, the Lakers also will have the ability to switch their agile power forward in pick-and-rolls involving Turner. That may be a strategy Walton tests and it will be interesting to see how Randle – who has made some strides defensively – fares.
Containing Paul George will be more difficult. But the Lakers are equipped with Luol Deng, who at his peak is an elite defender. Deng has not been great to start the season and will look to bounce back against George.
Beyond all that, look for D’Angelo Russell, who has been inconsistent to start, to get going against Jeff Teague (unless the Pacers switch George on him). Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson may also have strong showings with Monta Ellis among the band of misfits looking to guard them.
The Pacers have high hopes for their season, talking about giving the Cavaliers issues in the playoffs. They have been disappointing, so far, losing to the Nets and Bulls after beating the Mavs in overtime. It’s a tough game for the young Lakers due to the star power of Paul George, but they should be able to keep it competitive.