The honeymoon is over for Frank Vogel as Jim O'Brien's replacement in Indy. After a 9-3 start, the Pacers have dropped 5 of their last six games and with a win tonight, the Sixers can push their lead over the #8 seed to 6 games with only 19 left to play.
We've seen the Pacers thrice this season, but we've yet to see the new-look Pacers under Vogel. The last time the teams met, Andre Iguodala was just back from his achilles injury and Danny Granger became the only wing to score 25+ points against AI9 this season. Tonight, I'm expecting a different result.
We've got a couple of fun matchups: Jrue vs. Collison, Turner vs. Paul George and of course Iguodala vs. Granger.
Hibbert has been a disappointment since his quick start, and though he has a tremendous mismatch, I don't expect Indy to take advantage of it.
A couple of things to keep an eye on before my prediction:
- Jrue's containment of Collison's penetration. This was a big factor in the loss the last time these teams met. Jrue needs to keep himself between Collison and the hoop, and as a team, they need to figure out what to do with the pick and roll.
- Jrue's size advantage over Collison. He should get multiple looks in the post early on.
- Jeff Foster's swinging elbows. The last time the teams met, Foster was a very physical force in the paint and several Sixers took exception. If this game starts out the same way, I'm expecting Brand to return the favor on the other end.
- As usual, it needs to be a point of emphasis to keep the Pacers' under-talented, hustling fours off the offensive glass. Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough should never hurt you, but they can if you don't put a body on them and keep them off the glass.
Prediction: PHI 103, IND 92
The tip is at 7pm, game thread will land 90 minutes prior.