The Indiana Pacers now have something to aim for in the final month of the season thanks to the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
If they can beat the weakened and depleted Detroit Pistons on Monday night, they can keep their postseason push going.
Indiana is within striking distance of the conference’s ninth and tenth spots. On Saturday, the Pacers defeated the Pistons 121-115, their 11th consecutive defeat.
Due to a bruised left knee, the Pacers played without All-Star and leading scorer Tyrese Haliburton. Bennedict Mathurin (ankle), T.J. McConnell (back), and center Myles Turner (back) all left the game.
Jalen Smith exploded for 20 points and nine rebounds in their absence. Isaiah Jackson had 19 points and 11 rebounds (six offensive) for the Pacers, as did Andrew Nembhard, who had 19 points and eight assists.
For Jackson, who grew up in Detroit and was surrounded by 60 family and friends, the game was very special. He helped Indiana defeat Detroit 58-42 in rebounding.
At 90 each, the game was tied going into the final quarter. The Pacers were able to pull away halfway through the fourth thanks to an 11-2 run.
In order to win the rematch, they will likely need to rely on the same group. Carlisle said that none of the players who were injured in Saturday’s game would play on Monday.
Detroit is also playing with a short roster. Isaiah Stewart, Hamidou Diallo, and Cade Cunningham are all out for the season. Alec Burks (foot) and leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (Achilles) both missed Saturday’s game.
Even after the first half, Coach Dwane Casey was still dissatisfied with how poorly his remaining players performed.
Casey stated that Jackson’s absence from the boards will be crucial to ending the losing streak.