INDIANAPOLIS–The Indiana Pacers blew out the defending champion Golden State Warriors by 20 points and swept the season series 2-0.
Now, read that again. Pinch yourself. This is not a dream. It’s just another day in what’s been a terrific season.
Yes, the Warriors didn’t have Steph Curry tonight and this game won’t affect their playoff seeding. This game meant basically nothing to the Warriors. No one cares. This was an impressive effort.
“I thought it was a big test tonight,” said Head Coach Nate McMillan. “I was really looking forward to playing them with their roster tonight, just to see where we were.”
Where are the Pacers? Locked into at least the 5th-seed in the Eastern Conference and running on all cylinders as they approach the playoffs as they became the first team to ever sweep the Warriors in a season series since Steve Kerr became the head coach.
“Since the All-Star break, we’re playing playoff basketball against everybody,” said Bojan Bogdanovic, who lit the Warriors defense on fire with 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting, including a ludicrous 6 of 7 from behind the arc, “Because all of them are fighting for position in both the east and west. I think we’re doing a great job and we’re ready for the playoffs.”
Bogdanovic had perhaps the best shooting night of his career while also defending Kevin Durant for the majority of the night on the other end. Bogdanovic outscored Durant (28-27) as Durant hit just five of his 14 shots.
“I thought our guys responded to the challenge of the things we needed to do defensively,” said McMillan. “We needed to be physical and work on the offensive end of the floor and I thought both units did that for 48 minutes.”
Victor Oladipo described Bogdanovic’s performance with one word: “Feathery.”
“When he plays like that, it’s just so much easier to play,” continued Oladipo. “Everything just opens up. Like Open. Wide Open.”
The Pacers controlled the game from start to finish but entering the fourth quarter the Warriors quickly cut a 20-point lead in half in a little over a minute.
Enter Oladipo. The game swung right back to the Pacers favor as he was everywhere on the court. There wasn’t a play that went by where he wasn’t involved, getting all three of his steals in a less than five-minute stretch during the final quarter.
He finished with 21 points, seven assists, six rebounds and those three steals (franchise record of six straight games with at least three steals), but the numbers don’t quite do him justice tonight. The Pacers went on a 17-1 run that answered the Warriors initial burst to start the fourth quarter (the only point the Warriors scored was via a techincal foul) and pushed the Pacers lead all the way to 26 points.
The Pacers recorded 32 assists tonight, pushing their record to 8-0 when they have at least 30 assists and 23-3 when they have at least 25 assists.
“We did a good job of getting everyone involved early in the game,” said Thaddeus Young, who quietly put up 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists with a team-high +34, “and then throughout the course of the game just letting certain guys take over. I think we did a great job of just focusing in and feeding off that energy [from moving the ball].”
“This win feels great but it’s just one win,” said Oladipo, “Like I told them after the game, we have a lot more goals and a lot more things we want to accomplish. We just have to continue to get better.”
Doubt the Pacers as they try to accomplish their goals at your own risk. They’ve been proving the doubters wrong all season.
“I told the guys that I don’t know if anybody else has respect for them, but I do,” said McMillan. “I know when we play the game the right way, we’re connected out there and playing together on both ends of the floor, then good things have happened for this team all season long.”
This article was originally published on IndySportsLegends.com