Team Records: Portland (8-10) at Indiana (9-9)
Game Info: 4 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Indiana -4
Refs: Marc Davis, Sir Allen Conner, Sean Corbin
The Skinny: After a thrilling come from behind victory in Charlotte Monday, the Blazers look to close out their seven game road trip with their third straight win. They come in to face a Pacers team that has is returning home from a 2-2 road trip that culminated Tuesday night with a hard-fought win in Chicago. The Pacers have been inconsistent so far this season, due in no small part to Danny Granger’s patella tendonitis, which has already kept him out a month and is projected to keep him out possibly as long as two more.
Last Season: The Pacers won the only meeting between the two last season, which took place in Indianapolis.
Projected Pacers Lineup:
PF: David West (Xavier, 10th season) – 17.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
SF: Paul George (Fresno State, 3rd season) – 13.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.4 APG
C: Roy Hibbert (Georgetown, 5th season) – 9.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.4 APG
SG: Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati, 3rd season) – 7.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.5 APG
PG: George Hill (IUPUI, 5th season) – 14.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.3 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 last 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 is capable of the occasional explosive performance (such as Tuesday’s 34 point outburst in Chicago). Strangely for a player that attacks the basket so much, he doesn’t tend to shoot a lot of FTs and is okay when he does (around 78%). 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 –SG Elliot Williams (Achilles).
Indiana: Out – SF Danny Granger (Left Patella Tendonitis)
When the only team that ranks below you in offensive efficiency is the Wizards, that’s a problem. Such is the case for the Pacers this year. They are one of the worst offensive teams in the league, and try to compensate for it by playing a slow pace and leaning on their strong defense (which ranks first in defensive efficiency). The reasons for their offensive struggles are myriad, they don’t pass the ball well on offense, they turn it over too much and much like the Blazers last year, a lot of their players seem to be having below average seasons at the same time (perhaps, most notably, Roy Hibbert). On defense, however, they have no such problems and are strong in virtually every single facet on that end of the court. They hold opponents to a low shooting percentage and limit second chances better than perhaps anyone in the league. About the only thing they don’t excel at is forcing turnovers. When the Pacers win, its ugly and low scoring, but if you make them run and match you bucket for bucket, they almost always fall.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100 points. 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.