GOTW Preview: Indiana Pacers @ Brooklyn Nets

At 6:00 eastern time at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, two red-hot franchises will face off as they, like several either teams are doing everything in their power to move up the standings in the Eastern Conference.

The Match-up:

The Indiana Pacers (23-14), winners of four straight, are coming off of a 96-88 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats that saw forward David West record his first career triple-double. They benefited from superb point guard play that saw George Hill and back-up D.J. Augustin put up 19 and 18 points, respectively. They’ll be going to the homes of the Brooklyn Nets (21-15), who have won six in a row and seven of their last eight since firing coach Avery Johnson and replacing him with interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. Brooklyn had a nice showing on Friday night when they beat the Phoenix Suns 99-79. Joe Johnson chipped in 19 points in that game and MarShon Brooks added 17 points off the bench while filling in for Gerald Wallace, who came out of the game in the first quarter when P.J. Tucker contested a dunk attempt and Wallace landed hard on his right arm. Initial testing on the arm came up negative, but Wallace did suffer bruised ribs.

Injuries:

  • Gerald Wallace – Out. Wallace has been ruled out of this game with bruised ribs, sources near the team says.
  • Deron Williams – Questionable. Williams suffered a thigh contusion against the Suns on Friday. The star point guard is a gametime decision. ***Update: Williams will start, but may be limited in minutes***
  • Paul George – Probable. George is the leading scorer for the Pacers (16.9 PPG) and has shown great recent success against the Nets, scoring 19.5 PPG and shooting 66.7% from the field in the Pacers’ last four meetings against the Nets. Paul George missed Saturday’s game against the Bobcats with an undisclosed illness, but is expected to return with the team against the Nets. ***Update: George will play, according to the Indianapolis Star***

What to Expect:

Indiana has the top defense in the NBA, allowing only 98.6 points per 100 possessions, the best defensive rating in an 82-game season since the 2003-04 season. Their combination of long and quick players on the perimeter and Roy Hibbert causing havoc under the basket has slowed even the best of offenses in recent weeks. Both teams ranked among the slowest in the NBA by comes to pace, so don’t be expecting a “flying death machine” like Miami or the LA Clippers. The Nets have had an up-and-down year and are currently riding a hot streak. They have two guards in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson that have been putting up high-usage, albeit inefficient seasons. This game should be close right up to the end as they are pretty equally matched.

The X-Factor:

Joe Johnson is the X-Factor of this match-up. Much has been made of the struggles Joe Johnson has had in his first year with the Nets, most alarmingly is his worse-than-average PER of 14.5. For a player making $19.5 million this year, that’s just unacceptable. However, when Johnson has been productive, Brooklyn is a different team. The Nets are 16-5 when Johnson shoots at least 42% from the field and only 5-10 when he shoots worse than that.

The Predictions:

Some of the other contributors for Hoop City Blog assisted me with this section and gave me their picks for the game.

  • Skyler (twitter @skylerjgilbert) – I expect the Pacers to stop the Nets run and pull this one out. Brooklyn depends too much upon Joe Johnson and Deron Williams (who may not even play). Indiana’s perimeter defense will shut them down. 89-79 Pacers.
  • Sam (twitter @sam_vecenie) – For me, it pretty much just depends if Paul George plays, as he missed their game last night against the Bobcats with the flu. George has been on fire recently and looks like he’s turned the corner as a go-to option for the Indiana offense. If he plays, the Pacers will pick up a close win around 93-90. If he doesn’t, this should be a win for the Nets, who have won seven of their last eight under PJ Carlesimo. Without George, I’ll go with a 95-86 win for the Nets.
  • Chris (twitter @chrisjandb) – Indiana is on fire lately with a smothering defense. Opponents are only shooting 42.3% against them the last 10 games. IND 92 BK 86.
  • Quentin (twitter @qhaynes22) – I expect David West to have a big game. Pacers 94, Nets 87.
  • Jameson (twitter @jamdraper) – Brooklyn wins 94-89. Paul George not playing/playing ill hurts the Pacers.

Skyler Gilbert is a contributor for Hoop City Blog. He’d like to thank 82games.com, hoopdata.com, and basketball-reference.com for helping him compile the statistics used in the article. You can follow him at @skylerjgilbert. Also, it’s weird for him to be referring to himself in the 3rd person so he’s going to conclude this article.

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About Skyler Gilbert
Follow me on Twitter @skylerjgilbert

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