by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the Indiana Pacers, who played three straight from Feb. 14-16.
The Pacers have played pretty well this season, showing great depth and benefiting from the offseason addition of David West. That is until recently, when they hit a bit of a rough patch and lost four of five coming into their three for all challenge. Could they turn things around in the season’s most grueling stretch?
Game 1: Heat 105, Pacers 90 - No excuses for this one, even with Danny Granger going down with an ankle injury near the end of the first quarter. The Heat were playing the last of their epic three play, so should have been ripe for the picking for a team that until last week had only lost one home game all season. -2 points
Game 2: Cavaliers 98, Pacers 87 - The Pacers’ depth is supposed to be one of their biggest strengths, but losing at Cleveland without Granger’s services would seem to hurt that argument a bit. Kyrie Irving returned from a concussion for the Cavs to score 22 points and lead them to the win, while Indy’s season-long losing streak reaches five games. -1 point
Game 3: Pacers 93, Nets 88 - Finally a W for Indiana, which got Granger back in the lineup and needed every one of his game-high 32 points to hold off the lowly Nets. First-time All-Star Roy Hibbert chipped in with 13 points and 11 boards. I’m putting the over/under on his All-Star minutes at 4:30, by the way. 5 points
Any win in Game 3 is worth celebrating, but this was a pretty disappointing effort for the Pacers all things considered. 2 points for Indy.
Up next: The Portland Trail Blazers also played three straight Feb. 14-16.
Three for all Top Ten:
— Miami Heat (15 points)
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
— Denver Nuggets I (6 points)
— Orlando Magic (5 points)