Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Detroit


Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Detroit

SCOUTING THE PACERS: Protecting a lead is new to the Pacers and it showed Friday night in a frustrating home loss to Sacramento. They'll take another shot at it Saturday in Detroit. The home-road back-to-back scenario has been a struggle of late. Indiana has lost the second game on the road five straight times by an average of 17.8 points. But working in their favor is the Pacers' 17-4 record against the teams behind them in the Eastern Conference standings. That includes a 1-1 mark against the Pistons. Against the Kings, the Pacers were outscored 55-37 in the first half on the way to a 110-93 loss. The Pacers' 35.2-percent shooting performance was their sixth-worst of the season. Danny Granger scored 20 points but shot 4-of-13. The loss coupled with Milwaukee's 102-96 win at New York and Charlotte's 83-81 comeback victory in Boston trimmed Indiana's lead over the Bucks and Bobcats to two games. Charlotte (New York) and Milwaukee (Chicago) both have home games tonight.

SCOUTING THE PISTONS: The Pistons (25-47) have lost three straight and 14 of 19. Their latest defeat came against NBA-worst Cleveland, 97-91 on Friday. Charlie Villanueva, averaging 11.1 points per game, was benched after exchanging words with coach John Kuester following his removal after playing fewer than nine minutes in a 100-94 loss to Miami on Wednesday. Indiana will try to add to that slump by winning for the eighth time in nine matchups with its Central Division rival. The Pistons, though, have given the Pacers all they can handle in their two meetings this season. Brandon Rush's dunk with 5.4 seconds left gave Indiana a 102-101 home victory Feb. 23. A week earlier, the Pacers were denied a third consecutive win in Detroit with a 115-109 overtime loss.

KEY MATCHUP: Granger has averaged 32.0 points on 55.3 percent shooting in his last five trips to Detroit, including 28 last month while making 11 of 16 shots. Pistons rookie center Greg Monroe has averaged a team-best 20.0 points against the Pacers, including a career-high 27 during the loss at Indiana.

QUOTE MARKS: "We can't relax. Every night you're playing against a team that can beat you. This should be a lesson for us. ... You can't lose to a team that you should beat and at home, at this point in the season. It's a bad loss for us." -- Granger

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy (broken left thumb) is out. For the Pistons, Ben Wallace (sore left knee) is day-to-day, while Jonas Jerebko (partially ruptured right Achilles tendon) is out.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7:30 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 7. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Austin Croshere, with Kevin Lee reporting.

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