Sixers on Hawes' clutch three-pointer in final seconds Friday
Following last night's dramatics in a 115-107 overtime win over the Bucks (see story), the Sixers (6-8) are back on the hardwood tonight for what promises to be their toughest test in this young season.
Tipoff against the Pacers (11-1) at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m. The game will air on CSN.
Here are five things you'll want to know:
1. The NBA's best
At 11-1, the Pacers own the best record in the Eastern Conference and are tied with the Spurs for the best in the league. Their only loss came on Nov. 16 in Chicago in the second game of a back-to-back.
Fourth-year pro Paul George leads the Pacers and sits fifth in the NBA in scoring at 24.6 points per game. Roy Hibbert has been a monster at center, topping the league in blocks (4.2 per game) and leading Indiana in rebounding (8.8 per game). Sixth-man Luis Scola is averaging 8.6 points at a clip of 57.5 percent from the floor, fifth in the league.
At home, the Pacers have yet to lose. Tonight, they'll go for their first 7-0 start at home since 2002-03.
2. Spencer can't stop
Spencer Hawes' game-tying corner three last night didn't come out of nowhere. The 7-foot-1 big man has been making nearly two three-pointers per game and has hit at least one trey in every game this season while shooting at a crazy good 49.1 percent clip from deep.
Friday's 25-point, 12-rebound performance also marked his third straight double-double and ninth overall this year. Hawes didn't turn in double-double No. 9 until the 59th game last season.
3. Must pounce early
Indiana is the NBA's worst first-half scoring team, averaging just 41.2 points before halftime this year.
In fact, the Pacers have trailed at the half in nine games. In their only loss to the Bulls, they fell behind by 25 points at intermission and couldn't overcome the deficit, ultimately losing by 16.
But they've more than made up for it in the second half of games, when they score 54.1 points on average. Overall, Indiana's scoring offense (96.4 ppg) is just 20th in the league, well behind the seventh-ranked Sixers (104.1 ppg).
The Pacers' scoring defense, however, is tops in the NBA (86.8 ppg), compared to the last-place Sixers (109.6 ppg). For the Sixers to have any chance Friday, they'll need to jump out to a big lead, quiet the crowd and hope to hold off a second-half surge that's sure to come at some point.
Tony Wroten, who left last night's game with a lower back strain, is listed as a game-time decision. Thaddeus Young (personal reasons) is not with the team and will not play.
Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson are all out.
For the Pacers, Danny Granger (strained left calf) is out, and C.J. Watson (upper respiratory infection) is listed as a game-time decision.
5. This and that
• The two teams split the season series last year, 2-2, including a 105-95 Sixers win in Indianapolis on the final day of the season.
• The Sixers are 1-2 in the second games of back-to-backs this year. The Pacers are 3-1.
• Indiana's 11-1 record after 12 games is its best in franchise history.
• Despite a 5-4 home record, the Sixers are just 1-4 on the road, their only victory coming in the second game of the season in Washington.