Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET at FedExForum
Game Preview: Pacers at Grizzlies
Scott Agness | March 21, 2014
As the regular season winds down, there’s no letdown in the Pacers’ schedule. One night after topping the Chicago Bulls by 12 points, the Pacers (51-18) wrap up their season series with the Grizzlies down in Memphis as part of a six-day stretch with four games all against playoff teams.
The Grizzlies didn’t arrive in Memphis until late Friday because of a game the previous night. And like the Pacers, it was against a difficult Eastern Conference team: Miami. Before their loss to the Heat, the Grizzlies had won six of seven and eight of their last 10 games.
At 40-28, Memphis is currently slotted in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a game back from Dallas. Under first-year head coach Dave Joerger, an assistant the previous six seasons, their field goal percentage (47.6 percent) ranks second in the NBA and they possess a top-10 defense.
There are familiar faces on the Grizzlies’ roster, including three native Hoosiers: Zach Randolph (Marion High School), Mike Conley (Lawrence North) and Courtney Lee (Pike). Even better for fans of Indiana high school basketball, they are all starters.
Randolph, a two-time All-Star, is a consistent double-double performer with 40 this season and averages 17.1 points and 10 rebounds per game. Conley, now in his seventh season as a pro, has continued to get better. He’s second on the team in scoring, averaging career-best numbers 17 points (up almost three points per game over last year) and six assists per contest. Lee, meanwhile, arrived in Memphis in January after being dealt by Boston.
On the Pacers’ front, they want to continue to build on how they played Friday night versus the Bulls. They shared the ball (assisting on 79 percent of their field goals), didn’t force perimeter shots and received a pleasant stint from their bench unit.
Roy Hibbert will have another challenge inside, this time against Marc Gasol, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He’s an impact player, as evidenced by Memphis’ 23-8 record since he returned from an MCL sprain that kept him out for 23 games. He sprained his left ankle, however, in Friday’s loss in Miami and the plan is to be re-evaluated on Saturday.
Pacers: C.J. Watson (out, right hamstring strain), Andrew Bynum (out indefinitely, sore right knee)
Grizzlies: Quincy Pondexter (out indefinitely, right foot), Jamaal Franklin (not with team, D-League assignment), Marc Gasol (sprained left ankle, questionable)
“It’s going to be a good challenge. They’re a great basketball team, very-well coached and very physical. We need to go in and play another great game.” - Coach Vogel
“It’s just a process. We’re getting there. We always try to peak towards the end of the season so if this is where we start it off and we get better, I’m happy.” – Roy Hibbert
“He’s a terrific player. Zach Randolph is a threat on the offensive boards as well, and they’ve been playing really well as late — better than when we saw them early. It’s going to be another process and I’ll be immensely ready to go.” – Roy Hibbert on facing Marc Gasol
“That’s the good news and they’re playing right now also. Both teams I’m sure are going to be tired but we’ve just got to go take care of business.” – George Hill on facing a back-to-back, their second-to-last of the season
“I think Chicago really kind of set us up for a game like (Saturday), a defensive-oriented team and offensively they play big. We have our work cut out, but getting a win like (last night) will help us prepare.” – Paul George
- The Pacers have won the last three meetings between the two teams.
- Pacers guard C.J. Watson, who will miss the game due to an ongoing issue with a hamstring strain, played college ball at the University of Tennessee.
November 11: Lance Stephenson stole the show in a 95-79 win, Indiana’s eighth straight to open the season, as he recorded his first career triple-double: 13 points, a career-high 12 assists and 11 rebounds. The Pacers led by six at the half and saw it balloon to 16 after three quarters. Stephenson secured the memorable feat 64 seconds into the final frame when Paul George sank a 20-footer to clinch his 10th assist.
Paul George scored 23, continuing his streak of scoring at least 21 points in each game. George Hill had 13 and although Roy Hibbert was kept to three points, he had seven rebounds and five blocks. Center Marc Gasol led Memphis with 15 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes and Mike Conley tallied 11 points and dished out 12 assists.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)