Posts Tagged ‘indiana pacers’

PACERS AT BUCKS, 8:30 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • Indiana’s new acquisitions Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen are not with the team. They are, instead, back in Indianapolis getting physicals. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said he was likely to have the team practice on Sunday to help the new players get acclimated. “We’re not going to have a lot of practice time, so a lot of it’s going to be done on film and with the coaching staff,” Vogel said of working in the new Pacers. “We understand their game, so I’ll probably use Evan similar to how I use Lance (Stephenson) as more of a creator than a spot-up shooter like Danny (Granger) was. We’ll just play them to their strengths.”
  • With the Pacers boasting the No. 2 record in the league and No. 1 in the East, Vogel noted the trade is an indication that Indiana is in all-in mode in pursuing a championship. “I think we’re in that kind of an era,” Vogel said. “We’ve got a core group of guys that are going to be together the next few years. This is the ‘now.’ This is our best chance that we’ve had in many, many years, so we are going for it now. But it’s not like the team is going to be dismantled after this year. I think we have an era where over the next few years we’re going to be right there.”
  • Bucks coach Larry Drew said he fully expected to get Milwaukee’s new acquisitions — guard Ramon Sessions and forward Jeff Adrien — into the game tonight. “I want to get them on the floor,” Drew said. “They’ve had a day of going through some things, and we kind of threw a lot at them. My intention is to get both guys out on the floor and let them get their feet wet a little bit.”
  • Drew said guard Brandon Knight and forward Caron Butler would be game-time decisions. Knight, the Bucks’ leading scorer, missed Thursday’s game because of a cut on the bottom of his right heel. “He said it felt better, but still we’ll have to see how he is at game time,” Drew said of Knight, who did play Tuesday night with the injury. Although he played the last two games, Butler is hampered by an ankle sprain that caused him to miss the last four games before the all-star break. “It’s still sore and a little stiff,” Drew said. “He got over here early to get treatment and he’s going to go out there and warm up to see how it feels.” Butler did not take part in the morning shoot-around. Knight did participate in the shoot-around.
  • With Milwaukee having the league’s worst record (10-44) and the Pacers the second-best (41-13), the spread of 31 games is the largest between any two division opponents in the league by seven games. … The Bucks have allowed their last three opponents to shoot 50 percent or better. … The game ends a six-game homestand for Milwaukee. The Bucks are 1-4 in the first five. … Indiana’s Lance Stephenson leads the NBA in triple-doubles with four.

Rick Braun

BUCKS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV:  League Pass

  • Finally, some positive injury news for the Bucks: point guard Luke Ridnour, center Zaza Pachulia and guard Gary Neal all will be available for tonight’s game against the Pacers. Ridnour has yet to play this season due to back spasms, while Pachulia (right foot) and Neal (left foot) both missed the Bucks’ last game, a loss in Orlando.
  • Ridnour’s return was particularly welcome because rookie Nate Wolters has been the only true point guard on the roster. “Having a guy who’s a veteran and has been through all the wars certainly helps,” said coach Larry Drew. “We’re starting a rookie at the point guard position who has held his own. He’s done a phenomenal job but still you need that veteran point guard that can provide some stability.”
  • Pachulia returns to the starting lineup, giving the Bucks their seventh different group of the season: Wolters, O.J. Mayo, Ekpe Udoh, John Henson and Pachulia.  Milwaukee already has used 11 players in the starting lineup.
  • Milwaukee is without Butler, Carlos Delfino (right foot), Ersan Ilyasova (right ankle), Brandon Knight (right hamstring) and Larry Sanders (right thumb).
  • Indiana, on the other hand, has featured the same starting lineup for all but three games: George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert. The only other player to start was C.J. Watson, who filled in while Hill was out with a sore hip.
  • Of course, the Bucks also face the prospect of playing without forward Caron Butler for a while. Butler left the Orlando game with a left shoulder injury and traveled to Los Angeles to see a specialist. Drew said he wasn’t sure how much time Butler would miss until “we get the report back” from the specialist.
  • Danny Granger’s comeback has been stalled once again. The Pacers hoped the veteran forward would return to practice this week but after a private workout Tuesday that included some three-on-three, Granger reported increased soreness in his strained left calf so he was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. “He’s out until we see him in,” coach Frank Vogel said. “It doesn’t really adjust anything for me. We know he’s going to be out for a while with his calf. We hope to get him back as soon as possible but we’re not going to rush it. There’s no need to rush it.” Vogel said he hopes Granger can practice next week.

- Conrad Brunner

GRIZZLIES AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV:  League Pass

  • Danny Granger will be back at practice this week, but Indiana coach Frank Vogel said he has no timeline for the veteran forward to make his regular-season debut. Granger has been out since sustaining a left calf strain Oct. 18 in a preseason game against Chicago. The players are off Tuesday but Vogel said he expects Granger to get some two-on-two and/or three-on-three work before rejoining practice Wednesday and Thursday. “It’s going to be a new beginning of a process to get his game legs back under him and his game timing, which is what we were working towards when he got injured,” Vogel said. “I’m not sure what his return date will be … Anybody that’s had a muscle strain knows it doesn’t start grabbing at you till you really push it so we’ll see how he does this week.”
  • Whenever Granger is ready to play, he will come off the bench, with Lance Stephenson remaining in the starting lineup. “I’ll probably have a time frame where for ‘x’ number of games he’ll come off the bench and probably get some of the minutes Orlando Johnson and Solomon Hill are getting,” Vogel said, “And we’ll see where it goes from there.”
  • With his team playing its fifth game in seven nights, Vogel said the only player whose minutes he plans to restrict is point guard George Hill, who is working his way back from a hip strain.  “We’ll manage George because he’s still banged-up and basically playing hurt, fighting through some stuff with his hip,” Vogel said. “Other than that, we’ll probably play a similar rotation.”
  • Memphis coach Dave Joerger said he would prefer to play a tight rotation, not because of a problem with depth but because he believes that’s the best way to get the most from his core players. “I think over the course of an 82-game season, I do feel like we have some depth, however I think playing a high number of guys has been counterproductive for us,” he said. “It’s not been a situation where people can get in a rhythm. It’s one of those things that’s got to work itself out a little bit.”
  • Joerger said he had no special plans to try and test the Pacers’ legs, given this is their fifth game in seven nights. “They’re playing at such a high level they’d probably play seven in seven if the league would let them,” he said. “They’re playing really well right now, they’re shooting well, they’re defending well, taking care of the basketball pretty well. They’re definitely going in the right direction.”
  • After missing the Golden State game with a sprained right knee, Jerryd Bayless is active for the Grizzlies tonight. Joerger gave no indication before the game if Bayless would be able to play.

– Conrad Brunner

RAPTORS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV:  League Pass

  • George Hill will return to the starting lineup tonight at point guard for the Pacers. He missed the past three games with a sore hip. Given the time missed, Coach Frank Vogel said he planned to be conservative with Hill’s playing time. “He hasn’t played in a week so we’ll keep an eye on his minutes,” Vogel said. “He probably won’t play starter minutes, but he thinks with his mobility he can help us, and so do I.”
  • In Hill’s absence, C.J. Watson started three games and averaged 11.0 points and 5.0 assists. Watson will return to the backup role.
  • Danny Granger, out since Oct. 19 with a strained left calf, may return to practice next week, though Vogel said there is no expectation, or timeline, beyond that. Granger is trying to return after missing all but five games last season with a knee condition that required major surgery last April.
  • At 5-0, Indiana already is off to the best start in the franchise’s NBA history. A victory tonight would match the fastest start ever. The Pacers started 6-0 in the 1970-71 ABA season.
  • Tyler Hansbrough returns to his original NBA home tonight. Though he has said it’s “just another game,” it’s bound to have some special meaning. Hansbrough spent his first four NBA seasons with the Pacers after being drafted No. 13 overall in 2009, averaging 8.9 points and 3.6 rebounds. “I don’t think it’s possible for him to play harder in this game than he does every single night,” Vogel said. “From that standpoint it’ll be another game for him. I’m sure he wants to win a little bit more, but the guy goes 100 million percent every time he’s out there.”
  • Hansbrough is averaging 19.7 minutes, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 rebounds off the bench in Toronto. “I love him,” said Coach Dwayne Casey. “He’s not the most talented player in the world but he gives you every ounce of blood he has.” The game also marks the return of D.J. Augustin, who spent last season with the Pacers. Augustin is struggling thus far in Toronto, shooting 4-for-17 including 0-for-7 from the 3-point line.
  • Steve Novak will be back in the rotation for the Raptors tonight after being inactive the last four games. Acquired from the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani deal in July, Novak is expected to bolster the Raptors’ 3-point shooting. Casey said neither Austin Daye nor Quincy Acy will play tonight. “That’s going to be a fluid situation,” he said. “Those last couple of spots on the bench are going to be matchup situations.”

- Conrad Brunner

BULLS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV:  ESPN

  • George Hill will miss a third consecutive game with a sore hip, keeping C.J. Watson in the starting lineup against his former Chicago teammates. Hill participated in portions of practice Monday but was ruled out after an individual workout Wednesday. “Better, but not quite ready,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s literally day-to-day. We thought there was a chance he could go tonight. He’s better, not quite there yet, hopefully he plays Friday.”
  • Watson started 25 games for the Bulls in 2011-12, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists. He also had extensive practice time against Derrick Rose. So to whose advantage is that experience?  “Familiarity will help some but Derrick Rose is a unique athlete,” Vogel said. “Just because you know him doesn’t mean you’ve got all the answers.”
  • Rose received clearance from the NBA to use protective tape to help stabilize his sore neck. The tape was originally banned but the league reconsidered. “Anything that makes him more comfortable, I’m in favor of,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
  • Though Rose has struggled thus far, averaging 14.3 points, shooting .288 overall and producing more turnovers (17) than assists (13), neither coach believes that’s anything other than a short-term hiccup. “Great players always figure it out,” Thibodeau said. “Some shots aren’t dropping for him, that doesn’t mean they won’t drop tonight or the next game. If he’s not shooting well he’s got to find other ways to help us, which he’ll do. We have great faith in him. We have no doubt that he’ll come around. Some of it is just being out there playing in games.”
  • Said Vogel: “I don’t look at it like he’s been struggling. It’s only been three games. We’re always leery.  I think he’s capable of going for 40 every time he’s out there.”
  • With Danny Granger out at up to two more weeks with a strained left calf, Lance Stephenson will remain in the Indiana starting lineup. As well as he has played (16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, .531 shooting), might Stephenson remain in the lineup when Granger does return? “Who starts and who doesn’t is less important to me than who’s getting the most minutes,” Vogel said, “and the way Lance is playing, Lance is going to earn the bulk of the minutes.”

– Conrad Brunner

CAVS at PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: LEAGUE PASS

  • George Hill will sit out tonight’s game with a sore left hip. The injury occurred during the Pacers’ 95-90 victory in New Orleans Wednesday night. He left the game briefly after feeling some pain but returned and hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch to help complete a comeback. But the soreness increased Thursday and he missed practice Friday. Indiana Coach Frank Vogel said he hopes Hill will be back Tuesday in Detroit.
  • Veteran C.J. Watson will start at the point, with Donald Sloan the backup. “George really guards Kyrie (Irving) well so it changes things a little bit,” Vogel said, “but we believe in C.J.’s ability to guard, too. And Donald. Those guys are both tough defenders.”
  • One week into his projected three-week absence due to a left calf strain, Danny Granger’s timeline remains unchanged. Vogel said the veteran small forward is able to do light shooting and job through dummy offensive sets but is not yet able to practice.
  • Kyrie Irving will be back in the starting lineup after banging his elbow on the floor, causing his arm to go temporarily numb, in the third quarter of the 90-84 loss in Charlotte Friday night. Postgame X-rays were negative.
  • The schedule-maker gave Mike Brown a special treat, as the Cavs head coach was able to see one of his son’s first college games. Elijah Brown is a freshman at Butler University, which played an exhibition against DePauw Saturday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse, about a 20-minute trip from downtown Indianapolis. “They won, first of all, and he played well, had 18 or 20 coming off the bench,” Brown said with a broad smile. “I don’t know what they’re doing schematically but it looks like he’s trying to defend, which is a good thing because he never did it in high school. At least he’s trying and he’s in his stance half of the time. To be in Hinkle Fieldhouse to watch my son, that was unbelievable.”
  • Andrew Bynum totaled 18:20, eight points and six rebounds in Cleveland’s first two games but will not play tonight in the second game of a back-to-back as the Cavs bring him back methodically from multiple knee problems. Brown said Bynum isn’t necessarily restricted from playing on consecutive nights. “It’s going to be a game-by-game basis,” he said, “but he is not playing tonight.”

- Conrad Brunner

MAGIC at PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • With Danny Granger out approximately three weeks with a left calf strain, rookie Solomon Hill and second-year pro Orlando Johnson each will get looks with the second unit. “We’re going to look at both of those guys,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “Still not a ton of minutes there. Still going to play Paul (George) pretty heavy minutes and Lance (Stephenson) will be up there with starter minutes but it’s important to develop both of those guys. Rasual Butler and Chris Copeland are still options at the wing spot but we’re going to go with those two guys.”
  • Granger’s injury, which kept him out of the final three preseason games, cements Stephenson’s place in the starting lineup for at least the short-term. Whenever Granger does come back he will have to regain conditioning and rhythm. The good news is the surgically repaired left knee has not been the problem, and the three-week window may be open a little wider than necessary.  “I think three weeks is hopefully the longer end of what we expect it to be,” Vogel said. “Hopefully he’s back sooner than that. … It’s just a matter of when he can move out there without pain.”
  • Indiana will stick with the same starting lineup of last season, with George Hill at point, Stephenson at shooting guard, George at small forward, David West at power forward and Roy Hibbert at center.
  • Victor Oladipo’s first NBA regular-season game will be in familiar territory, just 75 miles from the Indiana University campus. The Magic’s top pick has played both guard spots, averaging 13.9 points, 4.6 assists and 1.63 steals (and 3.3 turnovers) during the preseason. “I think this is a great challenge for him,” Coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Family’s here, coaches are here, friends are here. Can you give all that energy toward your teammates and toward your team?”
  • Oladipo will come off the bench, with Jameer Nelson at point, Arron Afflalo at shooting guard, Mo Harkless at small forward, Jason Maxiell at small forward and Nik Vucevic at center.
  • Orlando is without forwards Glen Davis (left foot) and Tobias Harris (sprained left ankle), while guard Doron Lamb (sprained right ankle is doubtful).

- Conrad Brunner

HAWKS AT PACERS, 8 P.M. ET

TV: NBA TV

  • Indiana has been on its heels since Atlanta Coach Larry Drew shifted to a big lineup in Game 3 with Johan Petro at center, shifting Josh Smith to small forward (where he’s matched up with Indiana’s Paul George) and Kyle Korver to the bench. The change has neutralized the Pacers’ size advantage up front, energized Smith and frustrated George, who shot 37 percent and committed nine turnovers in the two losses in Atlanta. Drew will continue to go big for Game 5 tonight but wants to increase the tempo. “I’d like to speed it up even more,” he said. “We want to run, attack the rim and get them in an up-and-down match.”
  • The Pacers’ chief trouble spot has been the first bench rotation. Atlanta launched an 18-0 run late in the first quarter of Game 3 and a 22-3 run in the same stretch of Game 4. Indiana Coach Frank Vogel said he has some adjustments “up our sleeve” for Game 5 but declined to offer specifics other than to say there will be “some tinkering” with the second unit. One possibility is replacing the struggling Gerald Green with Sam Young or Orlando Johnson. Indiana’s reserves combined for 39 points on 13-for-52 shooting (.250) in Games 3 and 4.
  • While Atlanta wants to pick up the pace, Indiana needs to regain its defensive command. The Pacers have allowed opponents to score at least 90 points in 12 straight games, including the last eight of the regular season. Indiana was 31-6 when holding opponents to fewer than 90 during the season compared to 18-26 otherwise. “We’ve got to get the three-ball under control, second shots are hurting us and we need to do a better job in transition,” said Vogel.
  • Whichever team has led after the first quarter has won all four games in this series. … Indiana was outscored 111-70 in the first half in Atlanta, 62-35 in the second quarter. … The Pacers have dropped their last 13 games in Atlanta, while the Hawks have lost their last seven postseason road games.

– Conrad Brunner

HAWKS AT PACERS, 7:30 P.M. ET

TV: NBA TV

  • What ailed the Hawks in Game 1 will not be cured by a lineup change. Coach Larry Drew will stick with the same starting five (Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith, Al Horford) as in the opener despite Indiana’s dominating performance in a 107-90 victory. “We thought about it,” Drew said, “but decided to go with the same lineup.” Of the NBA-high 29 lineups the Hawks used during the regular season, the current grouping had the most success, going 11-5.
  • Indiana Coach Frank Vogel said Drew’s decision to stick with the same lineup doesn’t mean the Hawks won’t change some things. They could use more zone defense than in Game 1, when they tried it on only a handful of possessions. And Drew could use Dahntay Jones or DeShawn Stevenson earlier off the bench to provide defensive support against Paul George, who had a triple-double in Game 1. “There’s a million things you can adjust without changing lineups,” Vogel said. “I’m sure we’ll see some different looks.”
  • George was the first player since Magic Johnson with the Lakers in 1982 to produce a triple-double with three field goals or less, as he shot 3-for-13 and missed all five of his 3-pointers. “It would be good,” George said, “if my shot goes down.”
  • Atlanta’s Smith missed practice Monday with a mild sprain of his right ankle but returned Tuesday and is expected to start. “I don’t know what the percentage is,” Drew said, “but he was moving around very well (at shootaround) this morning.”
  • Indiana point guard George Hill landed hard on his sore hip in the first quarter of Game 1 and had his practice time monitored but will start once again. Pacers power forward David West limped to the locker room midway through the second period with a mild ankle sprain but returned less than three minutes later and is not listed on the injury report.
  • Indiana’s biggest challenge in Game 2 could be mental, maintaining the edge and intensity that carried them in the opener. There is definite opportunity for a letdown. “We know Game 2 is going to be harder, a tougher game,” George said. “It was a great win, great to start off on the right foot but you really have to throw that game out. You know they’re going to change things, bring a lot of intensity to the game. I know they’ve got to do a better job getting to the line and being physical with us, so we’ve just got to expect more out of them in the next game.”

- Conrad Brunner

HAWKS AT PACERS, 1 P.M. ET

TV: TNT

  • The Hawks will use their fifth different lineup in five games against the Pacers in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series today in Bankers Life Fieldhouse: Jeff Teague at the point, Devin Harris and Kyle Korver at the wings and Josh Smith and Al Horford up front.  That lineup went 11-5 during the regular season. “I wanted to go with what we’ve been best with throughout the season,” Coach Larry Drew said. “Smaller, we’ve been faster, we’ve been quicker. It’s surely something we’ll have to keep an eye on throughout this series because they’re so big, but we’re going to have to be us.”
  • Indiana will have a substantial size advantage up front with 6-9 power forward David West and 7-2 center Roy Hibbert, but could struggle to defend the smaller, quicker Hawks. “It’s not anything you do from a secret standpoint, you just have to go out there and play physical,” Drew said. “We realize we’re going to be giving up some size at certain positions but that doesn’t call for us to go out there and back down. You have to be prepared to play physical basketball come playoff time. That’s just the way it’s always been.”
  • Atlanta’s two wins against the Pacers came with Zaza Pachulia starting at center, but he’s out with a torn Achilles, as is guard Lou Williams (knee). As it has for all but five games this season, Indiana will play without Danny Granger (knee).
  • Though Indiana point guard George Hill struggled with a sore hip and groin late in the regular season, he did not play in the finale and had his practice time restricted, so Coach Frank Vogel said he is close to full strength. “If he doesn’t get banged or tweaked,” Vogel said, “I expect him to be at 100 percent.”
  • Home court is particularly important to the Pacers in this series, because they have an 11-game losing streak in Atlanta that dates back to 2006.
  • Indiana finished the season with five losses in six games and trailed by at least 20 points in each. “We’ve worked to make sure we’re tightening the screws on the things that were hurting us defensively, remind them what we’re capable of when we play with passion,” Vogel said. “We lost five of six but we won five straight before that. It’s part of the ebb and flow of the season.”

– Conrad Brunner