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Game 68 Preview: Blazers vs. Pacers

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Since we just played the Pacers a couple weeks ago the full-preview treatment would be redundant.  Not much has changed between then and now, save that the Pacers lost three and won one (against the Clippers, natch) in the interim.  You can find the earlier preview here.

A basic summation:

  • The Pacers score a ton.
  • They give up an ungodly amount
  • An ungodly amount is more than a ton, which is why they lose.
  • They share the ball and shoot from anywhere, including beyond the arc.
  • They turn the ball over too.
  • They're a good defensive rebounding team.

In addition we should point out that they're a much better home team than road team.  (It'd pretty much be statistically impossible for them to be worse, given their road record.)  Also they've played near-.500 ball against Western Conference teams.  This game is not going to be a cakewalk.

Keys to the Game

1.  With their continuing injuries the Pacers are guard-heavy in scoring.  One of the reasons the game in Portland was uncomfortably close was their guard penetration.  These guards don't usually penetrate that much.  Portland was surprised by their quickness and was less that diligent in keeping them out of the lane.  That can't happen again tonight.  Fair is fair.  They can take a lot of shots.  They just have to be from the outside.

2.  You absolutely must keep up with everyone on this team defensively, even in the halfcourt.  They have no pride.  They will simply dish it to the guy who's open.  The only cure is to not leave anyone open.  It's not like they're fielding Kobe or LeBron out there.  Single-cover and stay in front of your man.  You can help down low if the guards are getting inside (see Point #1) but then you have to recover.

3.  Punish them with your own penetration and deep scoring.

4.  Punish them on the offensive boards as well.

5.  Don't turn the ball over to them.

Final Thoughts

Payback games are seldom pretty.  This isn't a good team but  this is a capable team even with half of their players gone.  This is a team returning home after a couple of road losses.  And this is a team that feels it could have easily won that March 4th game.  The Blazers cannot coast on the win from Monday night nor look forward to the game against LeBron tomorrow.  Winning this one will take some of the pressure off of that one.

Check out the Indiana doings at IndyCornrows. 

Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.  Do remember it's a 4:00 p.m. start.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

P.S.   Tonight is a Blazersedge-type meeting in New York.  Some folks are getting together in the East Village. To join, follow this link and join the nyc-blazers Google group, where you'll find more info.