Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Warriors 120120
Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 at Oakland, Calif., 10:30 p.m.
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (9-4) vs. Warriors (5-9)
By Conrad Brunner
SCOUTING THE PACERS: Coach Frank Vogel's goal of being a .500 team on the road is noble and significant. It also is incredibly difficult to achieve and will become even moreso until the Pacers find a way to shake their inability to win out West. The Pacers have only produced three seasons with .500 or better records on the road in their 35-year NBA history, none since 2003-04, and they've dropped their last 13 road games against Western Conference teams (since 2009-10, they've lost 28 of 31). This game represents a critical opportunity, as it represents the 11th in the season's first 14 games against an opponent with a sub-.500 record. After facing the Warriors, the Pacers have three in a row and four of five against elite opponents -- with the only sub-.500 team being Boston.
Indiana took a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter Wednesday in Sacramento and threw it away with nine turnovers and 3-of-16 shooting against a 2-3 zone defense as the Kings rallied for a 92-88 win. Sacramento shot 30.1 percent, the lowest for a winning team in the NBA since Denver shot .292 in an 80-72 win over the Lakers on Oct. 29, 2003. The Pacers yielded 30 offensive rebounds, 12 alone to DeMarcus Cousins. The Pacers were 1-of-13 from the 3-point line as Danny Granger and Paul George combined to miss all 10 of their tries. George has shot 5-of-18 (.278) from the arc in his last six games after a torrid start. Granger has gone 1-of-14 (.071) in his last three.
Perhaps it's good news that they'll be playing with just one day of rest. They've lost 14 of their last 19 when they've had at least two days off (they had three days off before facing the Kings), the fourth-worst record in the league. The Pacers have lost their last four trips to Oakland.
SCOUTING THE WARRIORS: In his long-awaited and hard-earned debut as a head coach, former Pacers point guard Mark Jackson is working to establish a winning culture with the Warriors, who have been to the playoffs just once (in 2007) in the last 17 seasons. Jackson is the 11th coach in that span. There is plenty of talent. Guard Monta Ellis ranks sixth in the league in scoring (23.2), center David Lee eighth in rebounding (10.4) and sixth man Brandon Rush -- traded to Golden State for Lou Amundson during training camp -- fifth in 3-point percentage (.513).
Even without guard Stephen Curry, who has missed eight in a row with a sprained ankle, the Warriors have showed signs of coming around of late, splitting their last six games. In that span, they demonstrated both their potential (a 111-106 win over Miami) and their inconsistency (a 107-100 loss to New Jersey). A high-scoring team that will challenge the Pacers' much-improved defense, the Warriors have averaged 103.2 points in the last six, they also will offer opportunity to Indiana's struggling offense, yielding 104.7 in that same span.
KEY MATCHUP: Given the Pacers' inability to solve the 2-3 zone Sacramento used Wednesday, there's every chance they'll see it again against Jackson's Warriors. Until Indiana proves it can break down the zone, it is likely to see it more and more.
QUOTE MARKS: "I guess they felt like they couldn't guard us man-to-man, so they went to a zone and we had no answer for it. We were frustrated out there. I guess we still have to work on that extensively at practice." - Roy Hibbert on Sacramento's zone defense
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Jeff Pendergraph (concussion) missed Wednesday's game in Sacramento. Jeff Foster (back) is out. For the Warriors, Kwame Brown (torn pectoral) is out, while Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) has missed the last eight games.
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 10:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 10. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play, and Kevin Lee reporting.
INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.