Game Preview: Pacers vs. Warriors
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (21-12) vs. Warriors (13-17)
By Conrad Brunner
SCOUTING THE PACERS: With the third-best record in the East and sixth in the league entering the second half of the season, the Pacers have their sights set on homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- a far cry from a year ago when they were scrambling just to qualify. They carry a four-game win streak into the game but the four victims have a combined record of 26-111 (.190). With two more games against sub-.500 teams before heading into a stretch of eight in a row against teams in playoff position, the Pacers need to take advantage of every opportunity, particularly at home.
The offense is showing signs of coming around with three straight games of at least 100 points. Roy Hibbert has averaged 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds while shooting .659 in the streak but Danny Granger has struggled, averaging 13.3 points, shooting .282 overall and .167 from the 3-point line. The second unit has gotten a lift from A.J. Price (10.1 points, .511 shooting in the last seven), and Tyler Hansbrough had a season-high 22 points in his last outing, an indicator he may be ready to emerge from a lengthy funk.
SCOUTING THE WARRIORS: In his first year on the bench, Mark Jackson has worked to change the team's image as a shoot-first, defend-later bunch and it is taking root. The Warriors allow 100.7 points per game, five fewer than last season and remain one of the most potent 3-point shooting teams in the league. Former Pacer Brandon Rush leads the league at .524 from the arc, a pace that if maintained would rank as the second-best 3-point percentage in NBA history (to Kyle Korver's .536 with Utah in 2009-10). Klay Thompson (.452) and Stephen Curry (.450) are also among the league leaders as the Warriors rank second in the league at .396.
Where they tend to struggle is up front. Though David Lee (19.3 points, 9.8 rebounds) is highly productive at power forward, Andris Biedrins plays only a part-time role as the starting center for a team that is at its best when playing small. The Warriors have been outrebounded by 4.5 per game, ranking 29th in the league, but they outrebounded the Pacers 45-43 in the Jan. 20 meeting in Oakland. That one came down to the final sequence, as George Hill stole the ball from Ellis and went the distance for the clinching layup in a 94-91 Indiana win.
KEY MATCHUP: The Pacers enjoyed a 54-28 frontcourt scoring advantage in the last meeting as Granger scored 26, David West 18 and Hibbert 10 (with 16 rebounds). The Warriors, on the other hand, carried a 37-13 edge in the backcourt as Ellis (25) and Curry (12) got the best of Paul George and Darren Collison. Whichever team plays best to its strength will have the advantage.
QUOTE MARKS: "Coach (Vogel) is doing an outstanding job, they're loaded with talent, great depth. They're a team not only for today but set up for the future. Really happy and proud of what they're doing." - Jackson on the Pacers
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Jeff Foster (lower back) is day-to-day. For the Warriors, Kwame Brown (torn right pectoralis) is out, while Stephen Curry (tendon strain, right foot) is day-to-day.
TICKETS: Buy now
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Austin Croshere calling the game with the pregame show starting at 6:30. The radio broadcast will air on WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Bobby "Slick" Leonard, with Kevin Lee hosting the pre-game and halftime shows.
INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.