Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Sixers

FAN BLOG TV COMPANION PACERS NOTES SIXERS NOTES

Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Sixers

SCOUTING THE PACERS: For the Pacers to have any realistic hopes of catching Philadelphia for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, this is a must-win. With a three-game losing streak and five losses in six games, Indiana (27-35) has fallen five games behind the Sixers. The Pacers have won two of three previous meetings and would clinch the potentially important season-series tie-breaker with a victory. The Pacers have struggled at both ends of the floor of late. The offense has averaged 98.8 points on 41 percent shooting in the last six, while the defense yielded 113.7 points in dropping three in a row on the road last week. Danny Granger struggled on the trip, averaging 15.7 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting just .333, while Darren Collison has shot 36.6 percent in the last 13. Josh McRoberts has remained remarkably efficient at power forward, averaging 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting a staggering .651 from the field in the last 14 games.

SCOUTING THE SIXERS: After starting the season 3-13, the Sixers have undergone a remarkable turnaround under Coach Doug Collins, going 29-17 since, including six wins in their last seven games. All six of those wins, however, were against teams with losing records. Philadelphia has win two straight and six of eight on the road. Andre Iguodala has been on a tear, coming off consecutive triple-doubles (totaling 37 points, 23 assists and 21 rebounds) and has averaged 14.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 8.1 assists in the last seven games. Elton Brand also has come on strong, averaging 16.2 points and 8.2 rebounds in the last five, while backup big man Thaddeus Young has averaged 18.1 points on .642 shooting in the last nine. The biggest key to the Sixers' surge has been defense. They have allowed just 95.5 points in the last 46 after yielding 101.8 in the first 16.

KEY MATCHUP: This will be another major test for Indiana's "goon squad" second unit, which has surged since Vogel took control, averaging 40.4 points in 18 games. That's precisely the number Philadelphia's bench has averaged for the season, ranking first in the NBA. Young and guard Lou Williams rank second and fourth respectively among NBA reserves in combined points, rebounds and assists.

QUOTE MARKS: "They're just playing more solid basketball. Coach Collins does a great job. They're defending very well and as always they're a great transition team. Elton Brand is coming on, looking like the Elton Brand of old and Jodie Meeks is giving them some really good minutes as the starting shooting guard. They're just playing good basketball." – Vogel on the Sixers

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy (broken left thumb) is out. The Sixers are healthy.

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BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 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 6:30. 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.

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