March 26, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) shoots the ball against Miami Heat center Ronny Turiaf (21) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Miami 105-90. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers

Wizards (11-38, lost last 4) @ Pacers (29-20, lost last 1)

Key Stats

Washington

* 93.08 points per game (25th in the NBA) vs. 100.41 points allowed per game (27th)

* 43.6% FG (24th) vs. 45.6% FG allowed (22nd)

* 41.61 rpg (20th) vs. 44.67 rebounds allowed (27th)

* 18.16 apg (30th) vs. 15.33 TO pg (22nd)

Indiana

* 96.16 ppg (16th) vs. 93.35 points allowed (7th)

* 43.6% FG (23rd) vs. 43.3% FG allowed (8th)

* 43.41 rppg (7th) vs. 41.77 rebounds allowed (16th)

* 18.16 appg (29th) vs. 14.43. TO pg (14th)

Position-by-position Matchups

PG-John Wall vs. Darren Collison

SG-Jordan Crawford vs. Paul George

SF-Chris Singleton vs. Danny Granger

PF-Kevin Seraphin vs. David West

C-Nene vs. Roy Hibbert

Key Reserves

Washington-Jan Vesely, Brian Cook, Roger Mason Jr., Shelvin Mack

Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, Leandro Barbosa, George Hill, Dahntay Jones, Lou Amundson

Injuries of note

Washington-Trevor Booker (knee, game time decision), Nene (back, game time decision), Andray Blatche (conditioning, out)

Indiana-None

Breakdown:

The Pacers were horrible last night against an awful Nets team that shouldn’t have been able to hang with the Blue and Gold, once again proving that this Indiana team can literally lose to anyone. This of course came two days after proving they could literally beat anyone. So there’s that. Indiana will get a banged up Washington Wizards team that hasn’t won since the night before the last time it played the Pacers, last Thursday. The last team Washington beat was ironically the same Nets team that handed Indiana their demoralizing 16-point road loss last night. Again, with this Pacers squad, anything is possible.

Indiana shot well last night, but was far too careless with the ball in the first half, and it cost them a 6-point halftime deficit. They quickly erased it in the third quarter, but forgot to play fourth quarter defense, letting the Nets inexplicably run away with a big win. Obviously, Danny Granger sitting earlier than usual in the third (he usually plays out most of the quarter) with foul trouble threw the team off its rhythm. Granger had one more foul than he did points on the night, fouling out with 5 points on 2-8 shooting. But no excuses. The Pacers were a far better team that played down to an injured opponent, and it killed them. If they didn’t believe they were beatable after knocking off Miami on Monday, they ought to now, and hopefully Frank Vogel and his coaching staff impress upon them the importance of staying focused, even when facing lesser opponents. After all, tonight’s matchup is against the same Wizard’s team that held a 20-point halftime lead last Thursday, nearly shocking the Pacers before losing by 2. If any team is a stark reminder of why Indiana shouldn’t look past it’s opponents (as if they need a reminder after last night’s embarrassment) it’s Washington.

The silver lining, however, is that only Paul George reached 30 minutes last night (stuffing the stat sheet in the process, and looking generally dominant, at least offensively). Granger played only 21 minutes, and with the game out of hand late, even Jeff Pendergraph, Lance Stephenson and A.J. Price got some burn, which is welcome rest for a Pacers team with a game the next night. And it’s an important one. In the Eastern Conference playoff race, last night’s loss was one the Pacers couldn’t afford, and a loss tonight would be crippling. Indiana sees San Antonio on the road on Saturday, followed by playoff, or fringe-playoff opponents the next week. The Pacers need all the rest they can get, and got some thankfully last night.

Prediction: Pacers 104, Wizards 88

Again, I hate predicting blowouts, but if Indiana can’t handily destroy this Wizards team at home tonight, the big Miami win meant very little. With nearly the entire Washington front line out or questionable, Hibbert should have room to work. Likewise, Paul George could see face-to-face matchups with John Wall, and he should fare a little better than he did last night vs. Deron Williams, a much better overall player at this point in his career than Wall (or George, for that matter).

Fantasy Outlook:

All of my favorite Washington front line players are either hampered by injury (Nene and Trevor Booker) or inconsistency (Chris Singleton). This does open up the door for Kevin Seraphin, back in the starting lineup to mixed results. He was awesome against Boston, putting up 15/11 with 2 steals and a block. Then he sort of disappeared vs. Detroit with 12/5 in ten fewer minutes. If you’re desperate and it’s clear Booker’s out, get Seraphin in your lineup, as he could be a decent add for fantasy playoff time if he continues getting minutes.

The Pacers are as inconsistent as ever, but George continues his brilliance. No surprises or sneaky plays though.

Sign of the Apocalypse: MoveOn.org started a petition in “defense” of Starbucks (the Wal-Mart of coffee chains). Follow Lucas Klipsch on Twitter @LukeNukem317

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