Fresh off their best homestand since 2008, the New Jersey Nets take on the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis this evening. Indiana is 16-26 this year, with a 10-11 home record. The Pacers are led by oft-rumored Danny Granger, who’s shooting a career-worst 48.7% effective field goal percentage, and Roy Hibbert, who like Brook Lopez is having a difficult time putting the ball in the basket in his third season (43.6% from the field). The Pacers boast the 9th-best defensive efficiency in the NBA, but are 24th offensively. Damion James is still out for the Nets, as is Brandon Rush for the Pacers. Troy Murphy is still at home, looking for his lost puppy or something.
Here are a few things to look out for in tonight’s game.
Control the glass. Indiana doesn’t stand out very much, but one of the few places they shine is on the defensive end – as mentioned, they’re 9th in the NBA in defense. One of the big reasons for that is their ability to limit opponents to one rebound. They’re tied for sixth in the NBA in defensive rebound percentage, grabbing as many defensive rebounds as the Miami Heat. The Nets boast two outstanding offensive rebounders at the power forward position (Kris Humphries & Derrick Favors), and one of them should be on the floor at all times. Weirdly, the Pacers are the polar opposite at grabbing offensive rebounds – actually tied for sixth-worst, but this time with the Knicks.
Go inside. Roy Hibbert is a good defensive player, but here’s the rest of the big men on Indiana: Josh McRoberts, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Foster, & Solomon Jones. There’s a lot of holes in that defense. Humphries & Favors should have a field day with these two – Humphries does everything Hansbrough does, but better; and Favors can jump over anyone on that offense. If Lopez can score enough to limit Hibbert’s eagerness for help defense, the Nets should be able to dominate the paint.
Don’t foul. The Pacers are one of the worst teams in the NBA at drawing fouls that lead to free throws – they’re 3rd-worst in the NBA at free throws per field goal attempt. The Nets, unfortunately, have the third-most personal fouls in the NBA. No player on the Pacers other than Danny Granger averages more than three free throw attempts per game, and if they can continue to limit their fouls (as they did on this five-game stand) they could pick up right where they left off Wednesday.
For more news & analysis on the Indiana Pacers, check out TrueHoop affiliate 8 Points, 9 Seconds.