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Game 50 Preview: Blazers vs. Pacers

A Look at the Pacers

At 20-30 the Pacers are kind of an odd duck team.  They have managed impressive wins against the likes of Utah, New Orleans, Dallas, Denver, Orlando,  On the other hand they have also managed some prodigious losing streaks complete with scoring droughts and defensive implosions.  They suffer in the absence of star pivot Jermaine O'Neal and yet he is also one of the most-mentioned names in trade talks.  They have few bankable scorers (O'Neal is only averaging 15 ppg when he's playing) and yet they score 103 per game.  They do have a number of potential rebounding monsters but they lose the battle of the boards on a regular basis.  They're just...scattered.

But scattered or not, they're still dangerous.  Forward Danny Granger has become the centerpiece of their attack.  Though his shooting percentage is down his scoring is up to 18 ppg and he's quite capable of more on any given night.  He would be a handful for any of our small forwards to watch so I expect Lamarcus to draw that assignment.  Mike Dunleavy Jr. has finally fulfilled some of his offensive promise, averaging 18 a game also with a nifty 48% shooting clip.  He will also create some matchup problems with his ability to score from a variety of places.  Both Granger and Dunleavy have great range out to the three-point line.  If we aren't mobile and alert they can barbeque us.

Veteran guard Jamaal Tinsley still mans the point for the Pacers.  Whatever you think of his off-court life he's still a great assist man.  He rarely shoots well but can get on scoring jags when faced with sub-par defenders.  Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, and Ike Diogu round out the big man corps.  All of them score a little and offensive rebound a lot.  They play a hodge-podge of wings featuring Kareem Rush, Marquis Daniels, and Shawne Williams.  They're capable and athletic, but this is probably the Pacers' weak link.

The Pacers lose so often for three big reasons:

  1.  Their defense ranges from mediocre on the interior to downright horrible on the perimeter.  They allow opponents to shoot 38% from the three-point line, second worst in the league (and nearly first).  This is a dangerous trait when one of the best deep-shooting teams in the league is coming to town (albeit with two of its shooters out).  Their 105.5 total points per game allowed is second only to Golden State, which is just like saying you're the fattest thing in the room except for the hippo.
  2.  They don't prosecute the rebounding advantage that is hanging right there for them.  They're very good offensive rebounders but indifferent on the defensive end.
  3.  They are on the wrong end of a frightening 5.7 point per game margin at the free throw line.  They are very good foul shooters themselves but without a power game or individual speed they don't draw them much.  They are sloppy defenders and don't move their feet enough and so they give up a ton.
The question of the night will be whether Indiana can muster enough of a multi-pronged attack to overwhelm the Blazers offensively.  A lot of that will depend on the Blazers themselves and how they approach the game.  Indiana seldom enforces its will on the opposition, but they are more than capable of taking what you give them for free.

What I'd Like to See

  1.  Has anyone seen that South Park where they talk about the history of that church that's so popular in Utah?  Remember the song they kept playing?  "Dum-dum-DUM dum-dum-dum" (with an implied "b" at the end of each one of those "dums").  That's what they ought to play over the loudspeakers every time we DON'T get the ball inside and either score if the defense is passive or draw people and dish to the outside for an open jumper if they try to cover.  If you cannot break down the Pacers you didn't try very hard.  If we see a repeat of the one-on-one (or one-on-more) offense we saw against the Pistons I will be very upset.  Drive and dish.  Post and pass.  Make them move and put in whichever shot they can't keep up with.  Best of all, get fouled over and over again in the process.  They commit more fouls than anyone in the league.  Drive on them!
  2.  Limit their offensive rebounds.
  3.  Don't allow them easy buckets.  They NEED to score 105 most nights.  You can stop that just by getting back.
  4.  Their bench is capable, so even our depleted White Unit better come to play.
  5.  Travis.  Martell.   Score.
  6.  Most of all, just come with some confidence and a desire to not see a repeat of last night.  Take your open shots and hit them like you're a professional.  Dive for the ball like you care.  Talk to each other and help each other like you're a team.  If you lose doing that then Indiana just had a great night.  Chances are you'll have a decent shot to win.
--Dave (

P.S.  Don't forget to check out our fantastic SBN sister-site IndyCornrows for the opposition perspective.

P.P.S.  Scroll down for the Jersey Contest form for this game.  Don't forget the early start!