The Indiana Pacers seek their third consecutive win heading into the tail end of a six-game homestand when they welcome the Dallas Mavericks to Indianapolis on Friday.
A potential season-best winning streak, though, will be a challenge after Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle was placed into COVID-19 protocol, while practice was called off Thursday. Carlisle is expected to be out for his first matchup against his former team.
Behind Domantas Sabonis’ 20th double-double of the season, the Pacers cruised to a 122-102 rout of New York on Wednesday. Carlisle reportedly tested positive after the victory.
Sabonis’ 21-point, 11-rebound performance against the Knicks marked his fifth consecutive double-double, a stretch that began with a triple-double of 16 points, 10 assists and career-high 25 rebounds on Nov. 29.
Sabonis is one in a number of Pacers linked to trade rumors reported by The Athletic on Tuesday. Caris LeVert and Myles Turner were also cited as potential targets for deals.
“My name is in a trade rumor every day,” Turner said Wednesday. “For me personally, it’s just a part of the business and that’s exactly how I view it. I come in here, I show up, I do my job every day. And then everybody outside this locker room, this facility, can do all of the talking they want to.”
Turner scored 22 points in Wednesday’s win, his highest scoring output since posting 25 on Nov. 3 in another matchup with the Knicks. LeVert scored 15 points and dished six assists against New York.
In addition to Carlisle’s move to COVID protocols, Pacers guard Justin Holiday entered into protocols on Nov. 30.
While the status of other members of the Pacers roster remains to be seen for Friday’s contest, Dallas comes into the penultimate game of Indiana’s homestand off a 104-96 win Wednesday against the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies were without Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, Sam Merrill and Ziaire Williams, as well as Ja Morant, who missed his sixth consecutive game due to a knee injury. Morant also was placed on health and safety protocols earlier in the day.
Dallas capitalized behind 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from Luka Doncic, and 19 points from Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis played just over 23 minutes due to foul trouble and appeared to foul out late before the call was rescinded via replay.
The victory snapped a three-game losing skid and stretch of five losses over the previous six for Dallas, which slipped below .500 after a 102-99 defeat at home to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
“We’ve been struggling lately, but (Wednesday) it was a physical game and I think we responded really well,” Doncic said. “The last game (against the Nets) we had a 17-point lead and we blew it. (Against Memphis) we just needed to secure the win, and that’s what we did in the fourth quarter.”
Coming into the campaign at the forefront of MVP conversations, Doncic faced questions about his conditioning through the early portion of the 2021-22 season. Despite averaging 25.6 points, 8.5 assists and eight rebounds per game, his scoring and assist numbers are down slightly from the previous two seasons.
“I had a long summer, I think I relaxed a little bit, not taking care, but I gotta be better. I had a long summer,” Doncic said. “I had the Olympics, took three weeks off and then I relaxed a little bit, maybe too much, and I just gotta get back on track.”