Mar 19, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Nets small forward Gerald Wallace (45) during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Prudential Center. Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the New Jersey Nets 105-100. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Game Preview: Indiana Pacers @ New Jersey Nets

Indiana (29-19, won last two) @ New Jersey (16-35, lost last one)

Key Stats

New Jersey

* 92.49 points per game (25th in the NBA) vs. 98.92 points allowed per game (23rd)

* 42.3% FG (29th) vs. 47.6% FG allowed (30th)

* 40.08 rpg (26th) vs. 42.04 rebounds allowed (24th)

*19.47 apg (25th) vs. 15.29 TO pg (19th)

Indiana

* 96.42 ppg (16th) vs. 93.21 points allowed (7th)

* 43.6% FG (24th) vs. 43.1% FG allowed (8th)

* 43.5 rppg (6th) vs. 41.94 rebounds allowed (16th)

* 18.13 appg (30th) vs. 14.35 TO pg (13th)

Position-by-position Matchups

PG-Darren Collison vs. Deron Williams

SG-Paul George vs. Marshon Brooks

SF-Danny Granger vs. Gerald Wallace

PF-David West vs. Kris Humphries

C-Roy Hibbert vs. Shelden Williams

Key Reserves

New Jersey-Gerald Green, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson

Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones, George Hill, Leandro Barbosa

Injuries of note

New Jersey-Jordan Farmar (groin, out), Anthony Morrow (shoulder, out)

Indiana-None

Breakdown:

Just as the Pacers needed four games to finally squeeze out a win vs. Miami, New Jersey meets Indiana tonight with the same goal in mind. Unfortunately the Nets aren’t good in any discernible way. While the acquisition of Gerald “crash” Wallace was supposed to make New Jersey tougher and more versatile along the perimeter, the Nets are 1-6 since the trade deadline, with 5 of those losses coming with Wallace on board. If anything, New Jersey looks worse, losing games to bottom feeders like New Orleans and Washington in that span, with the team’s only win coming against Charlotte, literally the league’s worst team. Had the Nets played a real team last Saturday, that might have been another loss. With Wallace the Nets are worse on offense and defense, scoring a full point less per game than their season average, while allowing opponents to score significantly more. It’s fair to say that either the Gerald Wallace experiment is failing or it just hasn’t clicked yet…and time is running out. By the end of this season, both he and star point guard Deron Williams (publicly refusing to opt in for 2012-13 two weeks ago) could walk, leaving New Jersey with a gutted franchise, devoid of virtually all but this year’s first round draft pick. At least it will be a high one.

While New Jersey has certainly underachieved, if there’s one thing Pacers fans have learned, it’s that their team can lose to anyone, or at least play down to inferior competition, so the team shouldn’t look past this apparently lowly opponent. That said, the Pacers just beat one of the best teams in the league by 15, have had a day of rest, and are significantly deeper and healthier than New Jersey. From top to bottom, few NBA teams stack up with Indiana’s bench, and New Jersey is far from an exception. With Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar both out, the Nets will rely on rookies (Jordan Williams), recent D-Leaguers (Gerald Green) and guys you’ve never heard of (Sundiata Gaines) for their reserve scoring. Good luck hanging with the likes of Leandro Barbosa, George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough during those stretches playing with Indiana’s second unit. It would take a virtual miracle for the Nets to even be able to score with this team, let alone hang in a game with the Pacers. Be that as it may, as I already mentioned, the Pacers’ unexpected shooting slumps and uncanny ability to look just as bad as whatever horrible team they’re playing never cease to amaze.

There are no particularly good matchups for New Jersey, outside of obviously Deron Williams, who is of course one of the league’s best players even when he’s not 100% invested in trying. The smartest thing the Pacers can do to contain him is to simply not upset him; Williams dismantled Jeremy Lin and the Knicks after hearing talks about how Lin “dominated” him in their first meeting. Williams scored 57 a few games later. Indiana will have to lock him down early and often. As for the Pacers, well, they can rely on any number of players for scoring, but particularly watch Paul George, who out-sizes Marshon Brooks. George scored 45 points over the Pacers’ first two games vs. New Jersey, and averages around 19 vs. the Nets on the year.

Fantasy Outlook:

As the kids say, it’s all bad for New Jersey. Only Williams is really reliable, and once-sneaky fantasy rotation player Marshon Brooks has been horrible lately, averaging around 8 points per game on close to 33% shooting over the last four games.

George’s hustle numbers have been down a bit recently, but he helped on the rebounding end last game with 10. Roy Hibbert has been consistent recently, and you should again rely on him, at least until he gives you another reason not to. Darren Collison will look to build off of his huge game vs. Miami. You probably didn’t start him, so you missed out on his 20 points, four steals and 58% shooting. Don’t be fooled, but if you’re in a deep league and are desperate for point guard numbers with decent shooting splits (but frustratingly low assists) you could give him a look.

Lucas Klipsch thinks that if the world ends sometime soon, the lack of male birth control can be blamed. Follow him on Twitter @LukeNukem317

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