Dallas Mavericks @ Indiana Pacers
8:00 PM EST
Lose Three. Win Five. Lose Four. This should be the second of six straight wins, right? Our own little bastardization of the Fibonacci sequence. (If you’re wondering, we’d finish 47-35. Great, but we’d be on a losing streak at the end of the regular season, and end up being swept in the first round of the playoffs.)
Ok…we’re done with that.
So, let’s move on an look at some of the big stories for tonight:
- Mike Dunleavy will make his first appearance since February 8th. There are lots of things to watch with him, including how rusty he looks, how well he fits into the line up, and how the minutes are distributed.
- Danny Granger is also planning to give it a go tonight, after missing Wednesday night’s victory with a knee injury. Given the Pacers’ history with lingering injuries, this move causes me a little heartburn. Danny was struggling to move with his heal injury, so it’s very unlikely that this issue will help.
- Without Erick Dampier, the Mavs have no one of size for Roy Hibbert go against. It will be interesting to see whether Roy will exploit or be exploited by Drew Gooden and James Singleton. This might be a night that Solo sees more action than Roy.
- Dallas runs a very small, but talented backcourt foursome. Veterans Jason Kidd and Jason Terry lead the way, but they are augmented by a pair of diminutive young players in Jose Barea and rookie Rodrigue Beaubois (BOH-bwah). It will make for some interesting matchups for the Pacers. If I were coach, I’d use Dahntay and Brandon on Kidd. (But, if I were coach, we’d be 0-13.)
- The Pacers will be hoping to pick up just their second victory against a winning team this season. Excluding Boston, Pacer wins have come against teams with a combined 18-49 (.269) record.
As I promised, I wanted to get back to you with some comments and anecdotes on Wednesday night’s game.
- There’s no question it was an ugly game. The Pacers won the game, despite shooting .376. Last season, teams shot .376 or worse 165 times. Only 12 of them won.
- There will be plenty of times that we’ll be able to complain about Troy Murphy’s defense. Wednesday night was not one of them. T-Murda was physical and aggressive with Chris Kaman, who entered the game averaging over 20 points a game. It’s true that Kaman posted a double-double, but it was on 3-for-19 shooting.
- I could see two separate incidents from my vantage point that underscored how out of sync this team is. The first came early in the fourth with Luther Head on the right wing. Murph cut right, apparently moving to set a screen for Head. Before he could set the pick, Head bolted to the middle of the floor, nearly colliding with Murphy. The play ended with a scrambling layup by Head, but in the midst, both Murphy and Foster were looking at each other and shrugging. The second play came with a little under 5 minutes left, when Murphy was on the right wing and Foster was on the baseline under the basket. Ford had the ball at the top of the key, waiting to run a pick and roll. Troy and Jeff exchanged shrugs and pointed towards the foul line, but neither made a move. Belatedly, Foster made a half-hearted attempt to come up, but by that time, TJ had started to just improvise. Fortunately, the Clippers D was pretty much just standing around at that point, and Ford found Dahntay for a three to make it 77-70.
- There was an interesting little scene shortly after Dahntay Jones has switched over to guard Baron Davis. Things had gotten a little chippy between Ford and Davis earlier in the quarter, and Baron had responded with seven straight points. Coming out of a timeout with about 5 and a half minutes, Dahntay confronted Davis in front of the Pacer bench. I couldn’t tell what was being said, but Dahntay was clearly giving Baron a piece of his mind. He wasn’t quite jabbing his hand in Davis’ chest, but he was coming about as close as you could without making contact. It could have just been joking, but all I know is that Baron didn’t score for the rest of the night, managing to only get one more shot.
Baron rehearses for his role as Prince Vultan in the upcoming remake of Flash Gordon. The great ones are always in character. (photo by Michael Conroy – AP)