Team Records: Portland (20-21) at Indiana (23-16)
Game Info: 4 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Indiana -3.5
Refs: Marc Davis, David Guthrie, Eli Roe.
The Skinny: After narrowly saving their head coach’s job with a win in Washington Saturday, the Blazers return to the court looking to win consecutive games for the first time in almost two months. They will have to bring strong effort to beat a Pacers team looking to snap a four game losing streak and fighting for playoff position out east.
Last Season: The Blazers and Pacers split the season series, each winning on their home court.
Projected Pacers Lineup:
PF: David West (Xavier, 9th season) – 12.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.1 APG
SF: Danny Granger (New Mexico-7th season) – 18.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.8 APG
C: Roy Hibbert (Georgetown, 4th season) – 12.8 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.6 APG
SG: Paul George (Fresno State, 2nd season) – 12.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.3 APG
PG: Darren Collison (UCLA, 3rd season) – 11 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.1 APG
Player to Watch: Paul George (pictured at right) – There were many who may have wondered what exactly Indiana was thinking when they selected Paul George in the 2010 NBA draft. Turns out the Pacers knew exactly what they were doing. George has exploded onto the scene this year, literally, as his amazing dunking abilities have earned him the attention of NBA fans leaguewide (and earned him a spot in the 2012 dunk contest). He is a very good finisher inside and also has an improved outside shot, shooting about 40% on 3s this year. Strangely for a player that attacks the basket so much, he doesn’t tend to shoot a lot of FTs and is okay when we does (around 70%). He still turns the ball over a bit too much and his defense is not quite there yet but both are improving. Give him time and George clearly has the physical talents to become one of the NBA’s most exciting players.
Did You Know?: When he was 13 years old, future Pacers head coach Frank Vogel appeared on the “Stupid Human Tricks” segment of the David Letterman show for his ability to spin a basketball on the end of a toothbrush while brushing his teeth with the same toothbrush at the same time. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find video of this online.
Song of the Day: “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley-Sometimes you just have to go with a classic. This is one of those times. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee), SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder).
Indiana: Out – C Jeff Foster (back), Questionable-SG George Hill (Shoulder).
If you think Portland has been inconsistent this year, just take a look at Indiana. This is a team that is alternatively hot and cold and rarely in between. They rarely play a close game, with only 3 games decided by 3 or less, and are often either blown out or blow out their opponent. As a result of this, their statistical profile places them squarely in the middle of virtually every statistic, pace, offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. When they are going well, Indiana is very hard to stop principally because they have a lot of players who are capable of putting up big numbers on a given night. However, when they struggle, they lack the individual star needed to get them out of that rut and fall apart. They are a very good rebounding team and have decent team defense so at least that is consistent, even if their offense isn’t always there.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They outrebound the Pacers. This is not going to be an easy task but if they can manage to do it, they will almost certainly walk out with a win.
Indiana wins if: They record at least 20 assists. When the Pacers are doing well, it is the result of team offense and not iso one on one play. If they hit the 20 assist mark, that will be a good sign they are flowing on offense and should come with the win.