Malcolm Brogdon isn’t asking much for the Pacers’ five-game road trip that begins Sunday in Denver. Making history is all.
The Pacers have never swept a five-game Western road trip but Brogdon has publicized that as the goal for the journey that passes through Denver, Utah, Phoenix, Golden State, and Portland. He did it in his on-court interview following Friday’s victory over Minnesota and repeated it in the locker room afterward.
“That’s the goal,” he said. “We’re not guys who go in here like, ‘Man we’re playing a tough team tonight, we might not get this one.’ Our goal is to win every game. It doesn’t matter who we play. We’re good enough to go 5-0 on this road trip and we believe that. That’s what we preach.”
Five-game Western Conference road trips are rare in the Pacers’ NBA history, and they have never won all five. They went 4-1 in the 1995-96 season, losing only to Houston in the fourth game and the second half of a back-to-back.
They did sweep a four-game trip in the 2003-04 season when they won 61 games, defeating Golden State, the Clippers, Utah, and Denver. They also swept a four-game trip in the 2012-13 season that passed through Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles (Clippers).
The upcoming trip is front-loaded with a back-to-back set against the most difficult opponents. Denver has a 29-12 record and Utah is 29-13. Phoenix, Golden State, and Portland all have losing records.
“We’ve got to start strong,” Brogdon said. “As the road trip goes on you get tired … and it’s going to get tougher.”
When fatigue sets in, Brogdon believes the Pacers’ depth will become an increasingly valuable asset. Every player on the trip has started at least one game this season except Doug McDermott, who has been a consistent contributor off the bench with a 9.7-point average.
“Road trips are where teams’ depth gets really challenged,” Brogdon said. “We’re a team that’s deep. We’re a team a lot of nights the second unit comes in and can outperform the first unit. That’s one of our strengths, being able to throw multiple guys at you.”
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