Will Bynum and the Detroit Pistons come to Indiana in nearly complete control of their own destiny. Winning out means a possible first round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks. Losing even two games sets up a date with the Cavaliers. In the words of Survivor's Jeff Probst "worth playin' for?"
The answer is yes.
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Indiana: 34-45 (23-15 home)
Margin: -1.2 (+1.1 last 25%)
Pistons: 39-40 (17-21 road)
Margin: -0.3 (+0.9 last 25%)
Indiana has had a disappointing season, which has obscured the fact that they have gotten career years from Danny Granger and Troy Murphy. Murphy's success is almost certainly the product of Jermaine O'Neal's departure, a glitch in John Hollinger's matrix, if you will.
The Pacers even made a modest playoff push, winning six of eight before finally being eliminated from contention. Danny Granger has gone bananas, averaging 31 ppg on 58% shooting (and an absurd 68% from two-point range) over the last six. If I'm David Stern, I'm testing Granger and Bynum for steroids.
How funny would it be if Walter Herrmann jumped into the sixth row to knock out a spectator?
Keys for Detroit
Do something with Granger: Open question; how do you lose two games when your most prolific scorer is averaging 1.5 points per shot?
Limit the fouls: Indiana shoots 81% as a team, but compensates by fouling at an obscene rate. Exploiting the advantage is key in beating the Pacers.
Keep Bynum under wraps: The inclination might be to over-rely on the shiny new toy. Instead use Bynum's penetration to create opportunities for other players.
Question of the Game
The question always seems to boil down to some variation of "which team shows up, tonight?". We've seen the A-Squad this week, so let's hope that's what we have going forward.