The Indiana Pacers dropped their first four games after losing All-Star guard Victor Oladipo to a season-ending injury, but they've followed it up with four consecutive wins. The Pacers will try to continue to come together without their leader and push the run to five games in a row when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.
"I think we've been connected," coach Nate McMillan told reporters after Thursday's 116-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the second game of a six-game homestand. "Defensively playing good, offensively we've got ball movement and guys are knocking down shots. I felt like we lost a rhythm for a few games. That four-game losing streak, I thought we lost a rhythm. But, we seemed to have found it with the guys that we have out on the floor." Leading the way has been Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 29 points against the Clippers and is averaging 24.5 during the winning streak. The 29-year-old sharpshooter is averaging 20.7 points on 54.5 percent shooting in three games this season against the Cavaliers, who picked up a somewhat stunning 92-91 win on a last-second tip-in by Larry Nance in their previous visit to Indiana on Dec. 18. Cleveland is just 2-12 on the road since then after dropping a 119-106 decision at Washington on Friday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Cleveland), FS Indiana LINE: Pacers -14.5
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (11-44): Friday saw the return to action for power forward Kevin Love, who scored four points on 1-of-5 shooting in six minutes after missing the previous 50 games following foot surgery. "It was fun to be out there," Love told reporters. "It's my 11th year. I've seen a lot, done a lot, but coming back off of that, that was a weird feeling. But it felt good to be back out there, for sure." Rookie guard Collin Sexton posted his second straight 27-point effort in the loss while Nance hauled in a career-high 19 rebounds.
ABOUT THE PACERS (36-19): Bogdanovic is posting career-best numbers in scoring (16.7), rebounding (4.0), assists (1.8), field-goal percentage (49.4) and 3-point percentage (43.3), and has settled in nicely as the go-to guy on the offensive end. "I've never been in this situation, to be a starter and one of the (primary scoring threats) on the team," Bogdanovic told reporters Thursday. "That's given me a lot of confidence to shoot the ball the way I'm shooting right now." He'll try to keep it going on Saturday, which kicks off a stretch in which Indiana plays nine of 10 games against teams with sub-.500 records.
1. Pacers PG Darren Collison has 16 assists and one turnover over his last three games.
2. Love is not expected to play Saturday.
3. Indiana C Myles Turner recorded a career-high six blocked shots in Thursday's win and has 15 over his last four contests.
PREDICTION: Pacers 117, Cavaliers 103 Bet Now
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