If that’s the case, then Friday night’s battle between the two in Indiana will be a fitting preview.
The key for the Thunder will be how they handle Indiana’s 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert, who has been playing outstanding basketball in recent weeks. Hibbert is at 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds a game this season, and he’s coming off a road trip in which he was basically unstoppable.
In Monday’s 109-106 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, Hibbert played a solid 32 minutes and was 11-of-14 from the floor and 4-of-7 in free throws for 26 points, while adding 10 boards. It was an excellent performance on the road against a solid Clippers team. Last Saturday, he had 20 points and seven boards against the Phoenix Suns.
But in critical games, Hibbert especially comes through with solid performances. The Pacers have won five straight, including a key road win against the Houston Rockets in which Hibbert saw 37 minutes of action and shot 11-of-17 from the floor for 28 points, adding 13 rebounds.
Hibbert hasn’t quite had as solid of a season this year as he has enjoyed in the past three years, but he’s been coming on strong lately. He’s just about at the top of his game.
If Hibbert has a huge game Friday night, the Thunder will be in big trouble. If he’s quiet, then it’s the Pacers who might be in for a long evening.