November 19, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza (1) passes the ball as Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) defends in the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Indiana Pacers Host Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards (16-17) at Indiana Pacers (28-7)


The Indiana Pacers are searching for their 29th win of the season tonight when they host the Washington Wizards at 7:00 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Indiana is two wins away from becoming the first team to reach 30 wins.

Meanwhile, Washington is looking for an upset and a chance at reaching the .500 mark with their 17th win. They currently sit in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, with plenty of teams struggling to win ballgames at nearly the midway point of the season.

One key for victory tonight for the Pacers is stopping the dynamic backcourt of Washington. Indiana did so in the first meeting between the two teams when they halted the John Wall frenzy. Wall is capable of getting hot while keeping his teammates involves. He is always a threat to reach double-digits in the assist category.

Bradley Beal will also be in uniform tonight for the Wizards. Beal is a tremendous scorer out of the University of Florida. Helping the Pacers cause is Lance Stephenson, who will return to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game in Atlanta.

Stephenson must be on his game tonight defensively against Beal, as well as continuing to keep his defenders on their heels, specifically in transition. Lance does an excellent job pushing the ball for Indiana, creating his own shot and setting up his teammates for open opportunities at the rim.

Paul George is expected to have a tough assignment matching up with Trevor Ariza. Ariza reminds me of Kevin Durant in terms of his length and ability to knock down shots on a consistent basis. He’s a great defender and has given George problems in the past.

The Wizards also have Marcin Gortat and Nene down low. Those two present a unique challenge for the Indiana Pacers big men on both sides of the ball.

Washington is 6-1 in their last seven road games, an impressive mark for a sub-.500 squad. Playing at home, however, I give Indiana the edge. Pacers win 95-85.

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