Game Preview: Indiana Pacers @ Philadelphia 76ers

Indiana (39-22, won last 5) vs. Philadelphia (31-29, lost last 2)

Key Stats

Philadelphia

* 93.17 points per game (24th in the NBA) vs. 88.75 points allowed per game (1st)

Apr 13, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Andre Iguodala (9) sets up a play during the third quarter against the New Jersey Nets at the Wells Fargo Center. The Nets defeated the Sixers 95-89. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

* 44.8% FG (15th) vs. 42.5% FG allowed (3rd)

* 42.93 rpg (9th) vs. 43.83 rebounds allowed (25th)

* 21.8 apg (11th) vs. 11.07 TO pg (1st)

Indiana

* 97.26 ppg (14th) vs. 93.89 points allowed (9th)

* 43.9% FG (22nd) vs. 43.3% FG allowed (7th)

* 43.74 rppg (5th) vs. 42.0 rebounds allowed (15th)

* 18.49 apg (29th) vs. 14.25 TO pg (12th)

Position-by-position Matchups

PG-George Hill vs. Jrue Holiday

SG-Paul George vs. Jodie Meeks

SF-Danny Granger vs. Andre Iguodala

PF-David West vs. Thaddeus Young

C-Roy Hibbert vs. Elton Brand

Key Reserves

Philadelphia-Spencer Hawes, Louis Williams, Evan Turner

Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, Dahntay Jones, Leandro Barbosa, Lou Amundson, Darren Collison

Injuries of note

Philadelphia-None

Indiana-None

Breakdown:

Statistically the Philadelphia 76ers are the type of team that the Pacers are modeled after. They’re tough on defense, they rebound, they take care of the basketball and they have a fair amount of athleticism. Unfortunately, nothing has been working for them lately, and they’ve been exposed as a shallow, undersized team with a crippling lack of star scoring power and an inexplicable dearth of cohesion.

Philly has lost six of its last eight games, falling to teams like Toronto and New Jersey at home. During this, the most crucial part of the regular season, the one-time contenders for the Atlantic Division crown have become somewhat of a playoff afterthought; if the Sixers make it at all they’ll most likely be a 7 or 8 seed, and will be heavy underdog vs. one of the East’s two elite teams. So while the team will obviously be motivated to beat the current 3-seeded Pacers, Indiana is almost as good on the road (18-14) as Philly is at home (19-13), so topping Indiana, coming off a pretty relaxing game vs. Minnesota last night, will be no easy task.

The Pacers and Sixers have split two games this year, but both teams have changed dramatically over the course of the season’s last month. The Sixers, with their 8-man rotation that includes Thaddeus Young playing out of position at PF, and Spencer Hawes as the only healthy, legit big man off the bench, seem somewhat overmatched by the Pacers and their exaggerated depth. Indiana can throw no fewer than four bigs Philly’s way. Roy Hibbert is on a four-game double-double streak (with six double figure rebounding games in his last eight) and could easily dominate the creaky, undersized Elton Brand. David West could have trouble keeping up with Young on breaks, and Paul George and Danny Granger will have their hands full with Philly’s perimeter playmakers, Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks, so there could be a quickness advantage for the Sixers. Still, with all the fresh legs the Pacers have at their disposal, it will be tough for any 8-man rotation to hang with them, let alone one from a team that’s struggled so mightily lately.

Prediction: Pacers 91, 76ers 84

It’ll be a different ball game tonight. Indiana put up some video game-like lines last night vs. the T-Wolves, and tonight’s matchup with Philly will be much slower and more deliberate on both ends. Both teams have a tendency to create offense off of turnovers, but by and large they’re both gritty, defensively-focused teams that will challenge each other on the perimeter, and limit easy shots. The Pacers’ depth should help them pull through, but it will be a grind.

Fantasy Outlook:

The fantasy season is either over, or winding down for most of you, but there’s a good chance that if you’re playing you can still find some hidden values. Unfortunately not many of them are apparent in this matchup. George Hill has not been as impactful statistically as he has in reality, so he’s no automatic add. But if he gets another start (and he should, by all logic) he may be better than some of the injured/obscure guys you’re forced to start otherwise at this point in the season.

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

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