Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Dallas


Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Dallas

SCOUTING THE PACERS: This could be a battle of the benches. Indiana has relied heavily on its self-proclaimed "goon squad," with the reserves producing an average of 40.6 points in 16 games under Frank Vogel including 56 in a 113-89 loss in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Dallas' second unit has averaged a remarkable 50.5 points in its last 17 games. Of course, the Pacers will need more from their starters, who produced a season-low 33 points on 9-of-38 (.237) shooting against the Thunder. Though 10-6 under Vogel, the Pacers have dropped three of four and five of eight. In those five losses, they've been outscored 158-101 in the first quarters, falling behind by double digits in each. While the Pacers have become much more productive from the free-throw line, averaging 32.5 attempts in the last six, they've struggled from long range, shooting just 25.3 percent from the 3-point line (25-of-99) in the same span. The Pacers beat Dallas 102-89 on Jan. 12 in Conseco Fieldhouse but the Mavericks were without leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, who was out with a sprained right knee. Indiana has lost six straight in Dallas dating back to 2004.

SCOUTING THE MAVERICKS: The hottest team in the league, the Mavs have won seven in a row and 17 of 18. Their only loss since Jan. 22 came on an Arron Afflalo buzzer-beater to give Denver a 121-120 victory. The Mavs have averaged 106.8 points on .495 shooting in those 18 games, with the offense heating up even more of late, averaging 111.5 points on 53 percent shooting in the last eight. Their average margin of victory in the current streak is 11 points. Nowitzki has been on a tear, averaging 26.4 points on .558 shooting in the last five, while Jason Terry has averaged 24.7 points on .612 shooting in the last three. But they may have suffered a critical loss in their 101-93 victory over Philadelphia Tuesday as center Tyson Chandler went down with a sprained ankle and is expected to miss Friday's game.

QUOTE MARKS: "We’ll bounce back … It’s tough, especially against a playoff team; we know that. We’ve just got to play better down the stretch mentally and even before the game prepare mentally. This is going to test our character to see where we’re at." – Pacers point guard Darren Collison

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy (broken left thumb) is out. For the Mavericks, Caron Butler (ruptured right patellar tendon), Tyson Chandler (right ankle sprain) and Dominique Jones (right foot stress fracture) are out.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 8:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game and Stacy Paetz on the sideline, with a pre-game show starting at 8. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Bob "Slick" Leonard, with Kevin Lee reporting.

INTERACT: You can chat with other fans around the country in our live game chat, which begins at tipoff.