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NBA Preview: Indiana Pacers (39-31) at Golden State Warriors (36-32)

The race for playoff positioning will intensify on Friday in San Francisco when the Golden State Warriors seek a season sweep against the Indiana Pacers, who are playing their second game on a five-game road swing.

The Pacers (39-31) are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, holding the last guaranteed playoff spot to avoid the play-in tournament, after a 122-103 rout over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win, while NBA assist-leader Tyrese Haliburton (11.2 per game) dished nine to go with his 20 points.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said the obvious that the duo of Siakam and Haliburton feeding off each other is crucial for the Pacers in their late-season push.

Since being traded to Indiana from the Toronto Raptors in January, Siakam leads the Pacers in scoring at 20.7 points on 55 percent shooting from the floor and 7.6 rebounds. Haliburton is averaging 20.4 points per game.

The two lead the NBA’s most prolific offense at 122.8 points per game, which features six active players averaging in double-figures scoring. A seventh, Bennedict Mathurin (14.5 points), was lost for the season March 5 with a shoulder injury.

In the seven games since Mathurin’s injury, T.J. McConnell has scored at least 13 points in five, including the last four straight. He finished with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor and six assists at Detroit.

Golden State (36-32) seeks its first season sweep of the Pacers since 2018-19. The Warriors are also looking to climb upward from the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. They are in 10th place after their 137-116 home rout over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Golden State has not won consecutive games since the last victory in a three-game winning streak on March 1, going 4-5 since.

The Warriors rank seventh in the league scoring 118.6 points per game but have scored fewer than that average in five of their last six defeats. The Golden State defense, which has given up 116.8 points per game to rank 20th in the NBA, has allowed 123.8 points in its last five losses.

In winning its last four games, Golden State has averaged 125.5 points and faces an Indiana defense allowing 120.7 points per game, third-most in the league.

Paul, who is averaging a team-leading 7.1 assists per game, has missed 24 games, including Golden State’s 131-109 win at Indiana on Feb. 8. Stephen Curry erupted for 42 points and shot 11 of 16 from 3-point range in the previous meeting.

Curry’s performance at Indiana remains his highest-scoring outing since going for 60 against Atlanta on Feb. 3. He averages 26.8 points per game this season.

World Elite Syndicate

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