For much of the 2015-2016 season, Stephen Curry has stated that the Golden State Warriors (22-0) have a better team than last season, when they won 67 games and defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
Much like his 24-foot jump shot, Curry was right on the mark. With an astounding 22-0 record, the Warriors seem destined to shatter the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls NBA record for wins (72), and have put the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers' 33-game winning streak in jeopardy. All signs are pointing to the most dominant season in league history.
On Tuesday night, the Warriors visit the Indiana Pacers (12-7), a team enjoying a resurgence behind the return of Paul George. After a four-game road trip, the Pacers return home and look to bounce back from consecutive losses, and trail the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers by just a half-game.
The conventional thinking is that the Warriors can't possibly maintain this pace, and that some elite team on a hot-shooting night will eventually bring them down to earth. In their longest road trip thus far, the circumstances may be in place for the defending champions to finally suffer a blemish to their immaculate record.
After dropping their first two games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers have won six straight at home, including a 104-92 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 27, and a 123-86 thrashing of the Milwaukee Bucks.
But the Bulls and the Bucks are a long ways off from the Warriors. Golden State leads the league with a 49.3 field-goal percentage and is No.5 in opponents' field-goal percentage (42.5). The Pacers are 16th in field-goal percentage (44.1), and after George, none of their next five top scorers averages better than 44 percent shooting from the field.
Then there's Curry.
To call Curry a "sharpshooter" would be an enormous understatement. The 27-year-old is connecting on 47.2 percent of his three-point shots, and is shooting 53.2 percent from the field. Meanwhile, only James Harden attempts more shots, and Curry has the best free-throw percentage (92.1) among players averaging at least four attempts a game.
It will be up to George Hill and Rodney Stuckey to prevent Curry from lighting up the scoreboard, which is a particularly difficult task at the moment. In the last three games, Curry has converted 66.1 percent of his shots, and is averaging 37.3 points. Meanwhile, he has managed to dish out a respectable 4.7 assists per game, with the Warriors defeating the Charlotte Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets by an average of 12 points.
"We're definitely geared with our personnel to match up with this team," George said. "It looks good on paper, we've just got to go out and execute."
The last meeting between the two teams in Indianapolis was on Feb.22, with the Pacers prevailing, 104-98. Neither Curry nor George played due to injury.
Start Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBA TV
Live Stream Info: NBATV
Betting Odds: Warriors -6
Over/Under: 215.5 points
Prediction: This game should go down to the wire. If Hill and Stuckey can limit Curry's hot hand, particularly in the third quarter, the Pacers should have enough to earn an upset. A strong effort from George and veteran guard Monta Ellis will also go a long way. Interim head coach Luke Walton may need Klay Thompson, who has shot the ball well on this road trip, to get some extra looks.
If there is one game on the schedule, thus far, that has the Warriors looking a bit vulnerable, it's probably this one.
Predicted Score: Pacers over Warriors, 107-105