Preview & Chat: The Indiana Pacers

Kurt —  December 2, 2008

California News - November 18, 2008
Records: Lakers 14-1 Pacers 6-10
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.3 (3rd in league) Pacers 103.2 (24th in League)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 98 (2nd in league) Pacers 103.1 (7th in League)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Pacers TJ Ford, Marquis Daniels, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Rasho Nesterovic

Attention iPhone users. Just a quick site news note. One of the top issues with the new site design was that it did not read on iPhones. Now, that problem is solved for you and other people struggling with the new look on mobile phones.

Over on the sidebar, under the “Contact FB&G” section is a new little box where you can get a link to the new mobile site for FB&G. Just put in your phone number and you will get a text message with a link the mobile site. That site has the same content and comments as this site, just in a more phone-friendly format.

As always, if there are problems with this, shoot me an email and I’ll try to help.

Lakers notes: The Lakers take to a three game road trip, and Mike Trudell of sent along this note — “Indiana is cold.” The good news is that Canseco Fieldhouse is temperature controlled.

While you can nit-pick the Lakers tepid first half play lately, remember two key things: 1) Other teams are jacked up to play the Lakers right now and are throwing their best punches early, so it is hard to pull away; 2) Kobe and Pau are still sitting the fourth quarter a lot. That is the kind of thing that keeps legs fresh when the games really matter.

The Pacers Coming In: The good news, the Pacers are really better than a 6-10 team. They’ve beaten the Celtics and the Rockets, and have played the entire season without Mike Dunleavy, due to some knee problems. While they are losing games, the Pacers are not getting blown out. Their Pythagorean record (based on point differential) is 8-8.

The bad news — Pacers have lost five of their last six and are struggling to find an identity on offense. The only identity the really have is as a team that wants to get out and run, but execution by their guards has been inconsistent.

Let me be clear about one thing up front — I covet Danny Granger. He came into the league with a well-rounded game and built it from there. Someday he is going to be a key cog on a very good team. And his numbers are good this year again — he has to use 29% of the offense when he is on the floor (that’s a lot, 11th highest in the league) but he still has a very respectable True Shooting Percentage of 58.7%.

The problem is, after Granger’s 24 points per game, the team’s next two highest scorers — TJ Ford and Marquis Daniels — have TS% of 50% and their shooting from the floor has been weak. What that means is a lot of inefficient trips down the court.

And as a team, the Pacers live a bit too much on the perimeter and don’t get to the line a lot.

What the Pacers do well is play solid defense. Nothing spectacular and flashy, they don’t generate a lot of steals, but they play their positions and make you take more outside shots than you’d like (68% of opponents shots are jumpers and people are shooting just 42.5% eFG% on those). That said, opposing power forwards and centers have had success against the Pacers this year.

Keys To The Game: This is going to be a track meet — these teams play at the third (Lakers) and fourth (Pacers) fastest paces in the league. The team that plays better transition defense will get the win. And, this would be a good game for Fish to lay off the PUJITs.

The Lakers should even slow the pace down with the first unit, the Pacers have not defended the four and five spots well this year (both opposing centers and power forwards average a PER higher than 17) so is a good game to pound the ball inside early, get Gasol and Bynum involved and make the Pacers really defend the paint.

When the Lakers do push the pace, be smart about it and get good shots.

One Laker to watch — Jordan Farmar. He has had big nights against the Pacers in the past.

Where you can watch: Remember, early 4 p.m. tip-off on the West Coast. In LA, you can watch on KCAL 9. Nationally, it’s NBA TV to watch online.