Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 7:30 PM ET at Palace of Auburn Hills

Game Preview: Pacers at Pistons

Scott Agness | March 14, 2014

Matchup

Indiana remains on the road Saturday night, heading to Detroit to face the Pistons for the third time this season. They haven’t faced off since mid-December, when Detroit handed Indiana its first home loss of the season after an 11-0 start.

The Pistons (24-40), coming off two days rest, have lost four of their previous five games and eight of 10. Their season hasn’t gone nearly as well as they hoped or many thought. On Feb. 9, after a 21-29 start to the season, the Pistons canned first-year head coach Maurice Cheeks. The responsibilities to lead the team have since fallen on assistant John Loyer.

Indiana (48-17) has size, even more so with the addition of center Andrew Bynum, but Detroit is one of the few teams that can match it with the trio of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Rebounding, controlling the paint, and keeping the Pistons to one shot — while also limiting their turnovers, as always, are the keys for the Pacers in this one. The Pistons lead the Association in points in the paint (52.6 per game) and offensive rebounds (14.4) and are third in fast-break points.

The Pistons have seven players averaging more than nine points per game, with Josh Smith leading the team with a 16.6 scoring average. Brandon Jennings is a sneaky quick point guard who can score in a hurry. He’s coming off a 24-point night where he nailed 10-of-15 field goals.

Turnovers continue to be an issue for the Pacers. They were fortunate to leave Philadelphia with a win Friday night despite coughing it up 22 times. Over the last five games, they’re averaging more than 19 turnovers a game and those are valuable possessions where they don’t get an opportunity to score.

Bynum was held out of that game so that he’d be available for this challenge. In his first game with the team earlier this week, the 7-footer had eight points and 10 rebounds in a little more than 15 minutes. With just one Pacers game under his belt and worrisome knees, the medical staff decided it would be best not to push him, even though backup center Ian Mahinmi is dealing with a bruised left rib injury.

C.J. Watson came back from a sprained right elbow last night but didn’t return in the second half after straining his right hamstring. That is an injury that heals only with rest, so if he can’t go and since Donald Sloan isn’t with the team due to personal reasons, Evan Turner will have to shoulder some of the point guard responsibilities.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings

Kyle Singler

Kyle Singler

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe

Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond

Injury Update

Pacers: C.J. Watson (questionable, right hamstring strain/sprained right elbow), Ian Mahinmi (game-time decision, bruised left rib), Donald Sloan (not with team, personal reasons)
Pistons: Peyton Siva (day-to-day, sprained left ankle), Chauncey Billups (out, left knee surgery), Josh Harrellson (out, knee)

Quotable

“He’s prepared himself to play. He had an opportunity and took advantage of it (Tuesday) night. He’s going to make the game simple from my perspective, in terms of when he’s on the floor, we got to play through him offensively and we got to scheme a little bit. Obviously teams are going to try to stretch him out and get him out of the paint but we got to scheme for him a little bit defensively. But he’s solid.” – David West on Andrew Bynum

“They’re a problem area for every team. It’s tougher to win on the second night. That’s just how it is. We got to do it. We have to find a way to win.” – Frank Vogel on the second night of a back-to-back

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have won six of the last seven meetings with Detroit.
  • Over the last three games, Pistons forward Josh Smith is averaging 21.6 points and 8.7 rebounds.

Last Meeting

December 16: The Pacers' home-winning streak came to an end against a division foe, as the Pistons, despite being on the second night of a back-to-back, came into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and left with a 101-96 victory. Indiana tied the game at 49 late in the second, but then gave up seven points to end the half. The Pistons, who had a plus-15 rebounding edge, including 20 on the offensive end, outhustled the Pacers and led the rest of the way.

Lance Stephenson had 23 points, a new career-high at the time, and had seven rebounds and six assists without a turnover. Luis Scola’s season-high (18 points) came in this affair, and Paul George had 17 points on 4-for-14 shooting. Josh Smith finished with a game-high 30 points and Brandon Jennings had 18 points and eight assists.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)

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