Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Game Preview: Pacers (20-3) vs Pistons (11-14)

Scott Agness | December 15, 2013

Matchup

The Pacers have a challenging week ahead of the them. Before heading to Miami and then returning home to play the Houston Rockets, which also has been targeted as the return of Danny Granger, the Pacers face the Detroit Pistons for the second time this season. They are a division foe, but the Pacers hold a 10-game lead currently.

Reaching 20 wins just 23 games into the season, the Pacers are off to their best start in franchise history. The Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder remain the lone undefeated teams in their own building, with 11 and 12 wins, respectively.

The Pistons lost a heartbreaker Sunday night to Portland in overtime, as Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard nailed the game-winning basket. The Pistons, who’ve dropped four of their past five games, may come to Indy down and tired, or irritated and motivated. The Pacers took the season series last year, as well as their Nov. 5 meeting in Detroit.

Frontcourt play is imperative against the Pistons, who have a great deal of length and size. Andre Drummond is second in the league in field goal percentage (62.9 percent), fourth in rebounds (12.7) and has already recorded 17 double-doubles. Beside Drummond, the Pistons have Greg Monroe -- a very talented big man out of Georgetown -- and Josh Smith, who they signed in the offseason along with scoring guard Brandon Jennings. Chauncey Billups, back for another stint, was a welcomed addition.

Alongside Jennings, who leads the Pistons in scoring with 17 points and 7.6 assists per game, in the backcourt, Maurice Cheeks is starting their No. 1 draft pick, rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Since moving on from Atlanta, forward Josh Smith’s numbers are way down this year, to 13.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

The Pistons are the highest scoring team in the paint, with more than 51 points per game. They racked up 46 against the Pacers back in November.

As for the Pacers, Paul George looks to rebound from a season-low 10 points in Friday’s win over Charlotte. In what is expected to be a physical battle, they want to hit first and make the Pistons uncomfortable. Veteran forward Rasual Butler will still play the backup wing spot.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe

Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond

Injury Update

Pacers: Danny Granger (out, strained left calf)
Pistons: Will Bynum (doubtful, left adductor strain)

Quotable

“Points in the paint is mostly to the offensive glass for them and the transition game. Their ability to force turnovers, get steals and turn them into transition points – one of the best in the league at that. … They’re a beast of a frontcourt, and we know we’re going to have to play great to get a win.” – Frank Vogel

“These guys are big, strong and physical and we’ve got to hit first. It’s going to be a hit-first game. Whichever team hits first is going to win.” – Frank Vogel

“It’s going to be Danny’s spot when Danny comes back. Right now, Rasual is going to get some minutes, A) to stay sharp, B) to see what we have in him and see how he gels and mixes with these guys.” – Vogel on Rasual Butler staying in the rotation

“Same as always. Just to defend the paint and box out. They have two tremendously talented bigs in there so David West and me have our work cut out. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but they’ve been playing really well.” – Roy Hibbert on the challenge

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have won six straight meetings (by an average of 17.6 points) and 10 in a row in the series at home.
  • The Pistons’ starting group is the youngest in the NBA with an average age of 23 years and 142 days.
  • Piston big man Rasheed Wallace, who was part of their 2004 title team, retired in the offseason and is now on Maurice Cheeks’ coaching staff.
  • The Pacers are targeting Friday vs Houston for Danny Granger (calf) to make his season debut.

Last Meeting

Nov. 5: The Pacers recovered from a brutal second quarter –- nine points on 4-of-19 shooting –- and erupted for 36 points in the third quarter to take a double digit lead and rolled to a 99-91 win on Ian Mahinmi’s birthday. The Pacers shot 52 percent while holding the Pistons to 38 percent.

Paul George scored a game-high 31 points and he pulled down 10 rebounds. C.J. Watson, who started in George Hill’s absence (sore left hip), contributed 15 points and five assists. Hibbert had eight points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks. Brandon Jennings was just 6-of-20 from the floor but finished with 17 points, and Greg Monroe added 14 and 10.

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 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)

Ticket Information

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