Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at 76ers 120109
Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (6-2) vs. 76ers (5-2)
By Conrad Brunner
SCOUTING THE PACERS: Off to their best start since 2004, the Pacers will have some health issues to deal with Monday in Philadelphia. Danny Granger, who rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of a 99-77 rout of Charlotte Saturday, has food poisoning and is listed as a game-time decision. So are Roy Hibbert (who sprained his right ankle in the third quarter) and George Hill (who landed hard on his lower back in a tussle with Gerald Henderson). Indiana has turned in two straight remarkable defensive performances, holding both the Celtics and Bobcats to fewer than 80 points -- the first time they've done that in consecutive games since 2006. They've already held three opponents below 80 this season, something they accomplished just once all of last year. After limiting Boston to 25 points on 26.5 percent shooting in the first half Friday, they held Charlotte to 28 points and .217 shooting in the second half Saturday. They currently rank third in the league in both points (89.3) and field goal percentage (.410) allowed.
SCOUTING THE SIXERS: Like the Pacers, the Sixers are an emerging young team that relies on a tenacious defense, balanced offense and a deep bench. Philadelphia leads the league in points (85.6) and field goal percentage (.395) allowed and has won four games by at least 20 points, including a 97-62 rout of Toronto on Saturday in which they gave up their second-lowest point total since 1985. The Sixers are riding a four-game winning streak and have been led in scoring by reserve guard Lou Williams (17.1), but have benefited enormously from the improvement of young center Spencer Hawes, who leads the league in field goal percentage (.646) and is third in rebounding (10.6) while also averaging 12.6 points and 1.86 blocked shots. Since starting last season 3-13, the Sixers have gone 43-27 for Coach Doug Collins and have the same ambition as the Pacers -- to return to elite contender status in the East.
KEY MATCHUP: Led by Williams, Thaddeus Young (12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Evan Turner (9.9 points, 5.9 rebounds), the Sixers' second unit has been the best in the league, averaging 44.4 points per game. Indiana's second unit also has been a strength thanks primarily to the contributions of Hill (12.3 points, .519 shooting in the last six) and Tyler Hansbrough (12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds).
QUOTE MARKS: "We're happy with where we're at but the next three weeks are brutal, so we've got to take advantage of every game and every opportunity." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, F Danny Granger (food poisoning), C Roy Hibbert (R ankle) and G George Hill (sore lower back) are game-time decisions. For the Sixers, no injuries are reported.
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 6:30. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle, with Kevin Lee reporting.
INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.