Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers Pick & Prediction MARCH 12th 2024

Josh Giddey’s third NBA season was easily classified as a rough one as he shifts to an off-ball role for Oklahoma City.

But with little more than a month to go in the regular season, the Thunder guard is breaking out of the slump.

Over the Thunder’s last five games — four wins — heading into Tuesday night’s matchup with the Indiana Pacers in Oklahoma City, Giddey is averaging 13.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 57.7 percent from the floor.

Over his first 58 games, Giddey averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 44.7 percent.

But while the difference, outside of the shooting percentage, is not dramatic, Giddey’s impact has been. One of the differences for Giddey has been adjusting to playing off the ball.

During his first two seasons, Giddey more evenly shared point guard duties with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

This season, as Gilgeous-Alexander has once again made significant strides — and Oklahoma City’s overall depth has improved dramatically — Giddey has mostly played without the ball in his hands.

“I’ve played on the ball my whole life, so that comes more naturally,” Giddey said. “Every good team has to make sacrifices.

“We’re first in the West, so we’re doing something right.”

The Thunder come into Tuesday’s game having won three consecutive games and 10 of their last 12 to move to the top of the Western Conference standings.

Indiana is coming off a 111-97 win at Orlando on Sunday and has won two of its last three.

Tuesday’s game features two of the top offenses in the league.

The Pacers lead the NBA, shooting 50.6 percent from the floor, while the Thunder are second at 50.1 percent. Indiana is averaging a league-best 123.1 points per game. Oklahoma City is third at 120.8.

But while the Pacers have struggled on the defensive end, allowing 121.4 points per game (third worst in the league), Oklahoma City has allowed 112.9 to rank in the top half of the league.

“We understand that we’re one of the best teams in transition, and the only way we can get transition buckets is getting stops,” Indiana’s Obi Toppin said.

Toppin is a big part of what makes the Pacers’ offense go.

“He’s just easy to play with,” Indiana’s T.J. McConell said. “The guy gets out and runs better than anyone I’ve ever seen. He creates so much energy and disadvantages for the other team. … I just throw it up and he goes and makes my life a lot easier.”

The Thunder could be without Jalen Williams, the second-year wing who suffered a right ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over Memphis.

Williams initially injured his ankle in the first quarter, heading to the locker room for treatment before returning to start the second quarter. Williams injured his ankle again stepping on a courtside cameraman less than four minutes into the second and did not return.

Tuesday’s meeting is the first of two this season between the teams.

–Field Level Media

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