Game Preview: Indiana Pacers @ Houston Rockets

Indiana (30-21, lost last 1) vs. Houston (28-24, won last 1)

Key Stats

Houston

March 27, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Goran Dragic (3) shoots in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. The Mavs beat the Rockets 90-81. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

* 98.06 points per game (9th in the NBA) vs. 97.42 points allowed per game (19th)

* 45.3% FG (11th) vs. 45.5% FG allowed (21st)

* 42.19 rpg (16th) vs. 40.87 rebounds allowed (8th)

*20.89 apg (16th) vs. 14.9 TO pg (17th)

Indiana

* 98.24 ppg (16th) vs. 93.63 points allowed (9th)

* 43.7% FG (22nd) vs. 43.4% FG allowed (8th)

* 43.12 rppg (9th) vs. 41.98 rebounds allowed (17th)

* 18.24 appg (30th) vs. 14.33 TO pg (13th)

Position-by-position Matchups

PG-Darren Collison vs. Goran Dragic

SG-Paul George vs. Courtney Lee

SF-Danny Granger vs. Chandler Parsons

PF-David West vs. Luis Scola

C-Roy Hibbert vs. Marcus Camby

Key Reserves

Houston-Chase Budinger, Samuel Dalembert, Patrick Patterson, Earl Boykins

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

Injuries of note

Houston-Kevin Martin (shoulder, out), Kyle Lowry (illness, out)

Indiana-None

Breakdown:

The Pacers complete  a Texas two-step tonight vs. a young Houston Rockets team still searching for its identity and scrapping for playoff positioning. Sound familiar? Houston mirrors Indiana in some ways. The team’s scoring leaders are psuedo stars Kevin Martin and Luis Scola. They have some talented youngsters like forward Chandler Parsons, a pleasant surprise as a second round pick, and some veteran bigs in Sam Dalembert and Marcus Camby. Goran Dragic, filling in for the incapacitated Kyle Lowry (a breakout star in his own right this year) has been brilliant, averaging 17 points, 9 assists and 2 steals per game as a starter, on 52% shooting from the field. But while the Rockets are stacked with promise, they’re also hampered by injuries to important players. Martin has missed 9 straight with a shoulder injury, and Lowry has dealt with a very serious illness that has kept him sidelined for nearly a month.

For the Pacers to bounce back vs. the Rockets, they have to play more energetically on defense. Paul George cannot be the only player interested in jumping passing lanes. Dragic’s quick first step and impeccable vision will dismantle the Blue and Gold early if they can’t lock him up. Meanwhile, the Pacers must be more assertive on the glass, which hasn’t been a problem all year, really, except for in spurts, like in last night’s game where they were badly outrebounded.

Indiana can handle the short-handed Rockets, and need to on the road tonight to further establish themselves as a legit playoff team and eventual title contender as soon as next season.

Prediction: Pacers 98, Rockets 94

Hopefully Indiana is energized after last night’s loss. Tonight’s game is certainly winnable, and while Houston is talented, they are not an elite team. Indiana has beaten better teams at home and on the road this year, and desperately need another win to claw their way upward in the competitive Eastern Conference playoff race.

Fantasy Outlook:

Parsons and Dragic both deserve starts, along with your regulars. Dragic is an elite point guard when he gets minutes, and Parsons has been a stat stuffer in his starting stint. While he won’t excite you with his points, he’ll do enough of everything else to warrant a spot on your fantasy roster.

Lucas Klipsch believes in justice. Follow him on Twitter @LukeNukem317

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