Detroit Pistons (11-14) at Indiana Pacers (20-3)
The Indiana Pacers will meet the Detroit Pistons for the second time this season tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Indiana won the first meeting at The Palace of Auburn Hills, 99-91.
In that first matchup, Pacers All-Star forward Paul George went for 31 points (12-18 FG) and 10 rebounds. George also limited Pistons forward Josh Smith to 16 points on 5-16 shooting from the floor. Indiana also managed to keep the Detroit frontcourt trio from crashing the offensive glass behind Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Smith.
Tonight, the Pacers will need a similar outing to put away the Pistons. One major difference between tonight’s contest and the first meeting between these two teams is Detroit point guard Brandon Jennings. After being traded from Milwaukee during the offseason, Jennings was playing his first minutes of the 2013-14 campaign against Indiana on November 5.
Now that Jennings has a nice chunk of minutes under his belt and has revived his energy, it will be vital for Indiana guards George Hill and C.J. Watson to slow him down. Jennings is a major threat on the fast break and coming off ball screens. He can shoot, pass and get to the basket with ease.
Jennings may see time at shooting guard with rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the point. In that case, Lance Stephenson ought to force Jennings to score on Stephenson’s bigger frame and also post up Jennings offensively. Wearing down Jennings might be key to a Pacers win tonight.
All the same goes for Roy Hibbert, David West and George. These three guys need to look for their shot against the defense of Detroit’s frontcourt. Indiana’s frontcourt is much better offensively and thus need to put the ball in the basket.
Assuming the Pacers contain the Pistons in the same fashion that they did in November, Indiana should come away with the win. I like the Pacers by 10 tonight.