The Indiana Pacers play their third game in as many nights Wednesday when they visit the Wells Fargo Center to take on the Philadelphia 76ers.
When the Pacers and Chicago Bulls game was rescheduled from the day after Christmas for Monday, it meant Indiana would have to play three games in three nights. It would be the only time any team in the NBA would have to undertake such a feat, but the Pacers have done just fine.
Indiana won the first two games during this slate, both home victories. On Monday, the Pacers handled the Bulls, 111-101, then topped the Atlanta Hawks, 114-103 on Tuesday.
Granted, one of the best defensive teams in the NBA surrendered over 100 points three games in a row, but the Pacers have won four straight as they've moved atop the standings in the Central Division. They've also won 15 in a row at home, but are only 10-16 away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"I'm really proud of the effort tonight on the second night of a back-to- back," coach Fran Vogel said Tuesday night. "A gutsy win, a team win. (We got) a lot of contributions from a lot of different guys. This team plays with a lot of grit, a lot of hustle, a lot of unselfishness."
The Pacers had 28 assists on 36 made field goals Tuesday night. Seven Pacers scored in double figures, including all five starters and D.J. Augustin and Ian Mahinmi off the bench. Paul George led the way with 29 points.
The Sixers have won three in a row and four of their last five, but Monday's victory over the Orlando Magic came at a price.
Thaddeus Young, the Sixers' second-leading scorer and top rebounder, suffered a grade one left hamstring strain in the second quarter. He didn't return to the game and the team announced Tuesday that Young will miss three weeks.
"If there's any ray of sunshine in that at all, it's the fact it also is occurring during the All-Star break," said head coach Doug Collins. "Thad will work hard. Thad will be very diligent. Sometimes you have most valuable players and most important players. Thad is our most important player."
The Sixers didn't need Young against an injury-depleted Magic team on Monday. Without their four leading scorers - Glen Davis, Arron Afflalo, J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson - the Magic mustered 61 points and lost by 17.
Philly was led by Spencer Hawes' double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds. Nick Young had 15, Jrue Holiday 13 and Lavoy Allen, who is expected to start in Thaddeus Young's absence, chipped in 10 off the bench.
But this game was more about Orlando's weaknesses than Philadelphia's great play. The Magic shot 33.8 percent from the field and eight percent from long range. The Sixers attempted five free throws as the Magic only committed five personal fouls.
The Pacers, who just completed a four-game homestand, return to Indianapolis after Wednesday's contest for five more in a row at home. Indiana won this season's only matchup with the 76ers, a 95-85 victory on Dec. 14 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana has won six of its last nine in Philly. This is the sixth game in a nine-game homestand for the 76ers.