Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog: Pacers brace for 1st back-to-back-to-back set

Pacers brace for back-to-back-to-back set

Feb. 13, 2012

In his younger days, when round-robin tournaments were just part of the basketball life, Roy Hibbert said he could fuel himself with "Starburst, Skittles and Gatorade."

Times, and metabolisms, have changed. As the Pacers prepare to enter their first back-to-back-to-back set in 13 years, they'll be relying on something other than a sugar rush for sustenance.

"Ice tubs and heat wraps and a lot of sleep and a lot of water," Danny Granger said.

For the first of their three in a row, the Pacers draw Miami's big three Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. In keeping with the theme, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Co. will be playing their third game in three nights as the compressed 66-game schedule takes a quirky turn.

The Pacers haven't played three in a row since the last lockout-shortened season, doing so twice in 1999 and splitting the six games. They will have one more set this season, March 22-24. Of the 42 sets of back-to-back-to-backs on the NBA schedule, 18 already have been completed and the teams involved have fared surprisingly well, going 28-26 -- including a 10-8 mark in the third games.

None of the current players have experienced anything like this, at least in their adult lives.

"Probably when I was 11 years old in AAU basketball," Darren Collison said, recalling his last such stretch. "It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to getting back on track after this three-game losing streak.

"I've been asking around for any advice but I don't think my trainers have played three games in a row so maybe they're the wrong persons to ask. You've got to get as much rest as possible, I've heard you've got to drink a lot of water, and you make sure you do all the (right) things before and after the games."

To Coach Frank Vogel, the next three games are not a topic for discussion. He does not see beyond Tuesday, and does not want his players to be intimidated by the schedule.

"Honestly, I'm not even talking about three games in three nights," he said. "Our focus right now is strictly on cleaning up some slippage, particularly on the defensive end, getting back to being the No. 1 defensive team in the league, which we were for the first part of the season, and beating Miami.

"I'll manage it like a back-to-back, which will be slight restrictions on minutes. I want to make sure I use my bench, obviously. But I'm not going to overreact to it, either."

This is a bit of a moment for the Pacers. After a 16-6 start, they've lost four of five, including the last three in a row. Now they face the dreaded three-game gauntlet (traveling to Cleveland Wednesday and returning home to face New Jersey Thursday).

It isn't exactly the ideal scenario in which to put the brakes on a skid but the Pacers must find a way, lest things get out of hand.

"I think there's times to have a big-picture mindset and I don't know if this is one of them," Vogel said. "Right now we have the mindset of winning one game and doing whatever is necessary to get ourselves back to being ourselves and getting this game and going from there."

Where they go from there is, of course, to another game. And then another.

Skittles, anyone?

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