by Conrad Brunner
April 2, 2003
INSIDER SCOUTING REPORT
PACERS (43-31) at CLEVELAND (14-59)
Wednesday, April 2, 2003
7 p.m., Conseco Fieldhouse
RADIO: WIBC-1070 AM
By Conrad Brunner
Among the items of business to be addressed in the final two weeks of the regular season is bringing an end to a long, ugly losing streak on the road. It has been nearly two months since the Pacers last won on the road - Feb. 12 at New Orleans, to be precise. They may have no better opportunity to end the streak at 11 than tonight in Cleveland. The Pacers have owned the Cavs this season, winning the three matchups by an average margin of 18.3 points.
The Cavs have the worst record in the league and have been worse at home (11-25) than the Pacers on the road (13-23). But Indiana might not be in as dominant a position as hoped. Power forward Jermaine O'Neal, who has been carrying the offense for much of the past month, aggravated a sprained ankle during a 103-98 home loss to Sacramento on Tuesday night and said afterward he planned to sit out the game against the Cavs.
O'Neal had 24 points and 10 rebounds against the Kings, hitting 9 of 13 shots. He has averaged 24.7 points and 3.33 blocked shots in the last six games. His absence would be felt. Tuesday night's game marked the first time since March 8 the primary starting lineup had been together. Now, another disruption looms. If O'Neal doesn't play, his likely replacement in the lineup would be Al Harrington, who has been mired in a slump, averaging just 8.7 points on 40.7 percent shooting in the last 10 games.
The schedule offers the Pacers the opportunity to get well, both physically and emotionally. Just three of the final eight opponents have winning records (Detroit, Orlando and New Jersey). Though five road games remain, four are against losing teams.
Cleveland has gone 6-25 since former Indiana University standout Keith Smart replaced John Lucas as head coach, and the Cavs are 4-19 since the All-Star break. Those wins, though, all were against quality opposition. They beat the Nets twice, Utah and Golden State.
Pacers - In three games against the Cavs, Jermaine O'Neal has averaged 21.5 points on 56.7 percent shooting. ... Ron Artest has averaged 18.7 points on 68.8 percent shooting. ... Brad Miller has averaged 16.7 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 63.3 percent. ... Jamaal Tinsley has averaged 10.0 points, 9.3 assists and 3.67 steals. ... Ron Mercer has averaged 13.0 points.
Cavs - Ricky Davis has averaged 34.5 points, 9.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds in the last two games while shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 60 percent from the 3-point line. ... Zydrunas Ilgauskas is 11th in the league in blocked shots (1.92). ... Jumaine Jones has averaged 14.7 points on 50.3 percent shooting in the last three. ... Carlos Boozer has averaged 13.8 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 66.2 percent in the last eight. ... Chris Mihm has averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in the last nine. ... Milt Palacio has averaged 8.6 points and 4.9 assists while shooting 51.7 percent in the last nine.
Pacers - In three games against the Cavs, Erick Strickland has averaged 1.3 points on 15.4 percent shooting (2 of 13).
Cavs - Darius Miles has shot 38.2 percent from the field in the last three. .. Miles has averaged 4.29 turnovers in the last seven games. ... Smush Parker has shot 18.2 percent in the last four.
Shooting Guard - Davis can put up numbers to rival any shooting guard in the league and, lately, has gone above and beyond. He has not, however, gotten much done against Ron Artest and the Pacers, which is precisely why the Cavs have lost all three meetings. If Artest continues to throw a wet blanket over the smoldering Davis, Cleveland should have little chance in this one.
Pacers - C Primoz Brezec (R ankle), G Freddie Jones (L knee) and G Jamison Brewer (L shoulder) are on the injured list.
Cavs - G Dajuan Wagner (R knee) is on the injured list.