Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM ET at American Airlines Center

Game Preview: Pacers at Mavericks

Scott Agness | March 7, 2014

Matchup

After playing in Houston Friday night, the Pacers (46-16) head to Dallas on Sunday evening to face the Mavericks (37-26) and complete a Texas Two Step in the final stop of an overall three-game road trip.

Dallas won four straight games in late February, all over sub-.500 teams, and had dropped three in a row before edging the Portland Friday night. They’re barely hanging on to the eighth and final playoff spot in a very competitive Western Conference. The Mavericks have just a half-game lead on Memphis.

12-time NBA All-Star Dirk Nowitzki remains the centerpiece in Dallas. He’s averaging 21.6 points per game and has an old-school game featuring an accurate fadeaway off one leg. In the backcourt, the durable duo of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis has worked out better than expected when first acquired last fall. Though Calderon’s assists are down, so, too, is his turnover average (1.3), a career-low.

The Pacers’ elite defense has faded away since the All-Star break and with 20 games remaining in the regular season, they need to regain their dominance on that end of the floor. They’re on their first three-game losing streak of the season (they lost three in a row just three times last season); in each of those games, they’ve allowed 98 points or more.

Indiana’s poor play hasn’t been limited to the last week of action. Since winning 33 of its first 40 games, the Pacers have a mediocre 13-9 record, which includes six wins in seven days. Over the last few weeks, they haven’t played with enough urgency and certainly not a ‘hit first’ mentality. They’ve also got to do a better job of defending the 3-point line, where three of their past six opponents have hit at least half their attempts.

Still bothered by a sprained right elbow backup point guard C.J. Watson will miss his third straight game. Instead of playing Donald Sloan last game, Pacers coach Frank Vogel had his wing players — Evan Turner, Paul George, and even Lance Stephenson — take time handling the ball when George Hill, who’s not 100 percent, got a breather. That’s a position to keep an eye on.

Nearly one month ago, the Mavericks went into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and beat the Pacers, only of only four teams to do so on Indiana's home floor. The Pacers would now like to return the favor.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Jose Calderon

Jose Calderon

Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis

Shawn Marion

Shawn Marion

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki

Samuel Dalembert

Samuel Dalembert

Injury Update

Pacers: C.J. Watson (out, sprained right elbow)
Mavericks: None

Quotable

“Every team I've ever been a part of has had a stretch like we're in right now. Since I've been here, we've always worked our way out of it. And we will. It stinks right now, but we've got a good team and we'll regroup.” – Frank Vogel

“We're not the same team and I feel like last year, even the beginning of this year, we would always impose our will, play physical. I feel like now we're at a point where we're letting teams what they want to do and not imposing our will. We just have to figure out how to get back to mucking the game up.” – George Hill on Indiana’s defense

“…We are all grown men and we need to really look at each other in the mirror and figure out what all we can do better. Once every guy in this locker room figure it out then I think we'll be fine.” – George Hill

“We just need to win games at this point. We're just putting the emphasis on trying to get better. Since the All-Star Break we haven't been playing the best basketball. In a game you have to go back and forth and punch it out, figuratively, and we're not responding the right way. We have to figure that out on both ends.” – Roy Hibbert

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers had won four of the past five meetings with the Mavericks before losing at home last month. They’ve left Dallas with a win in their previous two visits.
  • Dirk Nowitzki’s free throw percentage (91.4 percent) is tied with Chicago’s D.J. Augustin for best in the NBA.
  • Pacers assistant coach Popeye Jones played in Dallas from 1993-96, and again in 2002-03. He later worked under Mavericks head coaches Avery Johnson and Rick Carlisle from 2006-10.
  • Pacers center Ian Mahinmi averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in two seasons with the Mavericks (2010-12).

Last Meeting

February 12: One game after posting new season records on the offensive end, the Pacers set new lows and managed just 73 points on 32 percent shooting in a 81-73 home loss to the Mavericks. Defense wasn’t a problem, as Indiana kept Dallas to 36 percent shooting. But the Pacers' shooting was off and to make things worse, they made far too many mental mistakes, including 20 turnovers. It wasn’t an ideal way to head into the All-Star break.

George Hill led the team in scoring for the third time this season with 14 points and five assists. Paul George and David West each had 12, and Lance Stephenson finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Dallas’ Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki combined for 41 points, and Vince Carter added 11 off the bench. Until this loss, the Pacers were 32-0 on the season when holding opponents to 92 points or less.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (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)

Get Pacers Tickets »
Single game tickets on sale through the end of the season