GAME TIME: 7:00 PM ET
Pacers: 13-25 (7-9 Home)
Margin: -2.5 ppg (+0.5 Home)
Last 10: 3-7 (margin -3.3)
Pistons: 22-14 (10-8 Road)
Margin: +0.4 ppg (-1.4 Road)
Last 10: 7-3 (margin +1.7)
Apparently Danny Granger reads DBB. In December, I made my early picks for the Eastern Conference All-star squad, and failed to include Granger (or even apologize for the exclusion). Since then, he has led the league in scoring, upping his average to 26.5 per game. I think it's safe to say he's taken over Rajon Rondo's wild card spot.
And yet, Indiana isn't winning, though they've been coming a lot closer of late since Mike Dunleavy rejoined the team. He has played very well off the bench (why he's on the bench is an utter mystery) and should help the team lurch toward .500 as he plays more minutes.
The Pacers' diagnosis is simple. They don't defend. They have no interior presence to speak of. They try to compensate by playing a break-neck style. Mike D'Antoni is not their coach. This is a recipe for a lottery squad. That the personnel is ill suited to TJ Ford's style of play is icing on the cake.
Rip and AI have expressed willingness to go to the bench, and both have stated that they think it's a bad idea. Keep gun firmly pressed against tonsils.
Keys for Detroit:
Don't let Danny Granger Score 50: That would just be embarassing.
Don't let AI shoot threes: Seriously, this needs to stop. It's like hack-a-Ben, if Ben were volunteering to go to the free throw line.
Don't let Dunleavy slip under the radar: He's coming off the bench as part of a misguided effort to ensure that either he or Granger are on the floor at all times (see? Other coaches make curious decisions, too) but don't sleep on him.
Question of the game:
Will we see Amir? An uptempo game against a team with solid rebounders who are nominal offensive threats is the perfect situation to free Amir, who simply watched as the Pacers destroyed us on the boards last time around.