April 03, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) and shooting guard Paul George (24) celebrate during the game against the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated New York 112-104. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards


Indiana (32-21, won last 2) vs. Washington (12-41, lost last 2)

Key Stats

Washington

* 93.15 points per game (24th in the NBA) vs. 100.00 points allowed per game (26th)

* 43.7% FG (24th) vs. 45.5% FG allowed (20th)

* 41.55 rpg (21st) vs. 44.49 rebounds allowed (26th)

* 18.49 apg (28th) vs. 15.34 TO pg (22nd)

Indiana

* 96.68 ppg (16th) vs. 93.98 points allowed (11th)

* 43.8% FG (22nd) vs. 43.4% FG allowed (8th)

* 43.36 rppg (8th) vs. 42.06 rebounds allowed (18th)

* 18.32 appg (30th) vs. 14.28 TO pg (13th)

Position-by-position Matchups

PG-Darren Collison vs. John Wall

SG-Paul George vs. Jordan Crawford

SF-Danny Granger vs. Chris Singleton

PF-David West vs. Jan Vesely

C-Roy Hibbert vs. Kevin Seraphin

Key Reserves

Washington-Roger Mason, Cartier Martin, Shelvin Mack, Brian Cook

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

Injuries of note

Washington-Trevor Booker (foot, doubtful), Nene (foot, day-to-day), Rashard Lewis (knee, out), Andray Blatche (conditioning, out)

Indiana-None

Breakdown:

While the Pacers are clearly a superior team to Washington, it hasn’t shown in the last two meetings. Indiana needed near miracles to beat the Wizards in both games, and one point during the first one was down by 22 points. It took a late-game gaffe by John Wall in the next for the Pacers to squeak by. Coming off of an emotional come-from-behind win at home vs. New York, and leading into a Good Friday matchup with the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder, this tilt with a Washington team that has presented challenges for the Blue and Gold already this year, could serve as a trap game.

The more the Pacers play the Wizards, the more banged up Washington seems to become. The Wizards’ starting low-post players, Nene and Trevor Booker, missed Monday’s game with Milwaukee to respective Plantar Fasciitis injuries, and the result was an ugly 14-point loss. Booker is likely out tonight, and Nene is day-to-day. With Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche both out, that leaves youngsters Jan Vesley and Kevin Seraphin as the Wizards’ only reliable bigs. The Pacers saw “small ball” from the Knicks last night, and responded with a quick lineup of their own in the fourth quarter. The Wizards may be forced into the same strategy tonight, and the Pacers can expect to see Chris Singleton moved to the low block from time to time. Either way, these are matchups that the Pacers’ bigs, especially Roy Hibbert, can exploit. In Hibbert’s last game in his college hometown of Washington, D.C., he put up 19/9, and has now scored in double-figures in three straight. Unfortunately he hasn’t grabbed double-digit rebounds since March 17.

Last night’s win was certainly exhausting, and it will take a bounce-back effort from the Pacers to avoid getting trapped by the pesky Wizards. While Washington really isn’t that good at anything, on paper, someone needs to tell them that when they’re playing the Pacers. A 22-point first half deficit is going to be near-insurmountable tonight, after last night’s miracle. Lightning rarely strikes twice for any NBA team. Indiana needs to come out focused, build a big lead, and get the starters some rest heading into Friday’s huge game with the Thunder.

Prediction: Pacers 111, Wizards 90

My predictions are usually off, especially when I call for blow-outs, but the way Danny Granger has been playing, combined with how terribly shallow and injury-ravaged the Wizards are right now, leads me to believe the Pacers have a great opportunity to run away with tonight’s game.

Fantasy Outlook:

It’s actually an exciting time if your a Seraphin or Vesley owner. They combined for 29 points and 9 rebounds in Monday’s game, in 71 combined minutes. Again, the Wizards don’t have much else right now. Chris Singleton, in deeper leagues, can put up some steals numbers, but he struggles with foul trouble, accumulating 11 PFs over the last two games.

Granger’s the key for the Pacers, and for your fantasy playoff hopes if you own him. He’s been lights out this week, averaging 28.5 points on 5.5 threes, 7 boards and 50+% field goal shooting in two games. You’re obviously starting him.

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