90 minutes before tip-off of the Pacers first official game in the NBA bubble they found out they would be without their starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon. He suffered a neck injury in their final scrimmage against the Spurs. The Pacers would have their 18th different stating lineup of the year to take on the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Pacers and the 76ers come into this game with identical records, fighting for the 5th seed in the eastern conference. Without Sabonis, who left the NBA bubble due to a foot injury, the Pacers would have to rely on Myles Turner to guard Joel Embiid. Turner historically has struggled to guard Embiid and that did not change early in this game. Turner had two fouls in the first 4 minutes of the game and was forced to go to the bench to avoid any more foul trouble. The Pacers started slow and trailed Philadelphia 2-10.
Then TJ Warren caught fire. Warren led the Pacers back scoring 19 points in the first quarter. The Pacers went on a 22-4 run including 17 straight. The second quarter would be back and forth. Outside of Warren, who ended the half with 29 points, the Pacers struggled to shoot. Their offense was generated mostly by their defense. The Pacers’ active hands forced 14 Philadelphia turnovers, including 2 steals by TJ McConnell in the 76ers’ back-court. The Pacers led at halftime 61-55.
Indiana would start the second half with the same lineup they had to start the game, but it did not last long as Turner picked up his 4th foul at the 10:20 mark in the 3rd quarter. The Pacers got some great minutes from Jakarr Sampson in the 1st half and would have to rely on him again for a lot of the 2nd half. The start of the 2nd half was similar to the start of the 1st, Philadelphia started hot with a 12-3 run, regaining the lead. The Pacers would switch to a 2-3 zone which was not the most effective, but the Pacers were clearly undersized and in foul trouble, so they had to try something different. It can be tough to rebound in a zone and that showed, especially at the end of the quarter when Embiid got the offensive rebound and scored as the quarter ended.
The Pacers trailed by 8 with 8 minutes to go. They would rally over the next two minutes to take a 1-point lead with 6 minutes to go after a Justin Holiday 3. TJ Warren would continue his hot start into the 4th quarter leading the Pacers down the stretch. A dagger from the wing by Warren would give him 53 points and the Pacers a 6-point lead late. No one would score again, and the Pacers would win by a score of 127-121. A huge step for the Pacers to stay ahead of Philadelphia in the east.