The Indiana Pacers' lengthy home winning streak is still alive, but the Central Division leaders now have to figure out how to get a 'W' outside of Indianapolis.
Indiana will try to get that done Wednesday night when it concludes the NBA's only back-to-back-to-back set against a Philadelphia 76ers team that will be without Thaddeus Young for a while.
After defeating visiting Chicago 111-101 on Monday in a makeup game from a Dec. 26 blizzard that hit Indianapolis, the Pacers (30-19) won their 15th straight at home on Tuesday, 114-103 over Atlanta. It's the club's longest surge at home since the 1999-2000 season.
Indiana won't get much time to enjoy that victory with the 76ers (21-26) up next, followed by a return home against Toronto on Friday.
"You definitely feel it,' Paul George said Tuesday after scoring a game-high 29 points. "I felt it tonight, really. But once the game starts going, everything goes out the window.'
The Pacers have won four in a row overall to move a season-best 11 games above .500, but they've dropped three straight and seven of nine on the road.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has won three in a row to improve to 4-1 on an eight-game homestand.
However, the Pacers may have caught a break in their first visit to Wells Fargo Center this season after the 76ers learned Tuesday that Young will be out for three weeks with a left hamstring strain. The injury occurred in Monday's 78-61 victory over Orlando.
Lavoy Allen and rookie Arnett Moultrie will likely get the bulk of Young's minutes alongside center Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner. Coach Doug Collins is going to need all of them to step up against Indiana's talented frontcourt of George, David West and Roy Hibbert, which combined for 61 points and helped the Pacers outrebound the 76ers 48-36 in a 95-85 home victory Dec. 14.
"I've always felt Thad was our most important player," said Collins, whose team hasn't won four straight since April. "He gives you speed out on the break. We're a team that struggles to score. When we take away some easy baskets from us, we're going to have to do a better job executing and we're going to have to shoot the ball better."
The 76ers are averaging 86.3 points on 44.8 percent shooting during their winning streak. Improving on the offensive end could be tough against a Pacers team holding opponents to an average of 90.4 points on 42.1 percent shooting - both Eastern Conference bests.
Indiana, though, has given up 100 or more points in five of the last seven games as it has leaned more on its offense. The Pacers are scoring 106.0 points per game - 13.2 more than their season average - during their last six.
West leads the club in that span with 21.5 points per game, followed by George (20.2) and George Hill (16.3 points, 5.8 assists).
Hill recorded his first triple-double on Dec. 14 with 15 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, but he didn't have to face Jrue Holiday, who was sidelined with a sprained foot. Holiday leads the 76ers with 19.3 points per game and 9.0 assists, both career highs.
Indiana won 102-97 in its last road game against the 76ers on April 17. These teams have alternated wins and losses in the last seven matchups in Philadelphia.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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