Feb 16, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) dunks against the New Jersey Nets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats New Jersey 93-88. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Charlotte Bobcats @ Indiana Pacers

Charlotte (4-26) @ Indiana (18-12)

Key Stats

Charlotte

* 86.90 points per game (30th in the NBA) vs. 100.53 points allowed per game (28th)

* 41.8% FG (29th) vs. 47% FG allowed (27th)

* 40.2 rpg (26th) vs. 44.77 rebounds allowed (27th)

* 19.3 apg (22nd) vs. 14.77 TO pg (10th)

Indiana

* 94.17 ppg (17th) vs. 92.83 points allowed (11th)

* 42.6% FG (26th) vs. 43% FG allowed (8th)

* 43.27 rppg (7th) vs. 42.7 rebounds allowed (22nd)

* 17.57 appg (29th) vs. 15 TO pg (13th)

Position-by-position Matchups

PG-D.J. Augustine vs. Darren Collison

SG-Reggie Williams vs. Paul George

SF-Corey Maggette vs. Danny Granger

PF-Boris Diaw vs. David West

C-Bismack Biyombo vs. Roy Hibbert

Key Reserves

Charlotte-Kemba Walker, B.J. Mullens, D.J. White, Derrick Brown

Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, A.J. Price, Lance Stephenson, Dahntay Jones

Injuries of note

Charlotte-Gerald Henderson (hamstring, day to day)

Indiana-Jeff Foster (back, day to day), George Hill (ankle, out)

Breakdown:

When these two teams last played on January 7, Indiana won in blowout fashion and finished with six double-figure scorers, while shooting 50% from the floor. Since then the Bobcats have gone 2-20 and the Pacers have gone 12-10.

Coming off a pretty unconvincing win over a terrible New Jersey Nets team at home, on the tail end of a back-to-back-to-back, Indiana gets the league’s worst team at home this evening, after two days of rest. The Bobcats are coming off of just their fourth win of the year after beating Toronto on Friday, and actually are on pace to become the worst team in league history.  Their problems are myriad, but it starts with a very obvious lack of star talent, something they will easily address with a very high pick in this star-studded 2012 draft. The team is, on paper, good at very little. But there are a few bright spots, especially on post defense, where Roy Hibbert and David West could have their hands full with emerging rookie Bismack Biyombo (13 rebounds and 7 blocks vs. Toronto). D.J. Augustin, arguably the Bobcats’ best offensive player, is also back from a lingering toe injury that kept him out for several games. He broke into the starting lineup on Friday with an 11 point, 10 assist double-double. Predictably, as is their tendency, the Pacers struggled with Augustine during the teams’ last meeting, allowing him to score 20 points and hit three 3-point field goals.

Indiana has a depth and talent advantage almost exclusively across the board in this matchup. As evidenced by the Pacers’ six double-figure scorers on January 7, there seems to be simply too much depth and experienced on this Indiana team for a team like Charlotte to contend with. That said, with back-to-back games vs. Charlotte (the teams meet again, @ Charlotte, in two days) Indiana can’t be lulled to sleep and succumb to a “trap” in either matchup.

Prediction: Pacers 102, Bobcats 88

After a few days off to get their heads straight, the Pacers realize the momentum they can build heading into the All-Star Break with two games vs. such a bad opponent. They clamp down on defense, and go to work on offense here, en route to another double-digit blowout of the lowly Bobcats, if for no other reason than to avoid embarrassment.

Fantasy Outlook:

Augustine is clearly suffering no ill effects from his multi-week layoff, so start him with confidence, especially vs. a team so bad against point guards. Both Biyombo and Tyrus Thomas (now in the dog house) have had huge blocks numbers from time to time this year, but Biyombo is the man of the hour, as he’s been the team’s consistent starter at center for over two weeks now. Rolling with him is obviously still a very big gamble, as he’s yet to put two back-to-back good games together, and is still very foul-prone, but the reward (like Friday’s near triple double) may be worth it.

Danny Granger seems to have wormed his way back into Pacers’ fans hearts, at least temporarily, with his 30 points-on-a-sprained-ankle-heroics vs. New Jersey. Fantasy owners can’t really count on him like they used to though. Roy Hibbert remains the only Pacer I will endorse through thick and thin for fantasy purposes. He put up a double-double vs. New Jersey, and 20/8 vs. Charlotte on January 7. In H2H leagues this game comes on the last day of the week, while the next tilt between Indiana and Charlotte comes against what will likely be another opponent for you, so you can use this one as a good barometer as to what he’ll do in the next one.

Lucas Klipsch is a so-called amateur sports writer. He wishes he were a little bit taller. He wishes he were a baller. Follow him on Twitter @LukeNukem317

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