Indiana has lost five straight games in Utah, giving up 106.2 points per game in the process and losing by an average of 16.4 points. Considering the Pacers boast the NBA's second-best scoring defense this season, one would think that kind of outcome would not happen again. However, Indiana's normally stout defense was torn apart on Wednesday in Portland, giving up 100 points in a loss to the Blazers.
The Jazz have been playing extremely well at home this season, sporting a 14-4 record overall and a 5-0 record against the Eastern Conference. In those five games, Utah has won by an average of 12.0 points.
The Jazz will also be looking for a little redemption, for several reasons. One, Utah was pummeled by the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at the Staples Center. The way this season has gone, getting blown out by the Lakers is quite the embarrassing feat. Second, the Jazz were destroyed by the Pacers 104-84 on Dec. 19. Indiana led by as many as 32 points in the beat down and dominated nearly every aspect of the game.
The most intriguing matchup of this one will be between the frontcourts. The Pacers surprisingly had their way down low in the first meeting, outscoring the Jazz 52-28 in the paint. Paul George had a double-double, while Roy Hibbert and David West also reached double figures in scoring up front. For Utah, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined for just 11 points and 15 rebounds on 3-of-15 shooting.
The one thing the Jazz did do well in that first game was rebound, winning the rebounding battle 48-37 while grabbing 16 offensive rebounds in the process. Utah's work on the offensive glass has been a strength all season, as they are seventh in the league in offensive rebound rate. Right above them in sixth? The Pacers, who are also second overall in total rebound rate.
George's exemplary work on the glass, and his strong play overall, is a huge reason Indiana is 26-17 despite Danny Granger missing the entire season thus far. The 22-year-old forward is averaging 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds on the season, earning a well-deserved trip to the All-Star Game. West, who will be making his first trip back to Utah since tearing his ACL there in 2011, has also been huge. The veteran power forward is averaging 16.6 points on the year, picking up some of the scoring slack with Hibbert struggling offensively.
The Jazz were shut out of the All-Star Game, but both Jefferson and Millsap have had really strong years. Jefferson is averaging 17.0 points and 9.8 rebounds, while Millsap is at 14.7 points and 7.8 rebounds. Gordon Hayward is also having a nice season, scoring 13.5 points per game off the bench. Hayward will likely see some time against George, who was selected one pick after Hayward in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Time and TV: 9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV
Odds: Utah is a 2-point favorite.