RAPTORS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
November 8, 2013 · 6:13PM
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
JAZZ AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
December 19, 2012 · 6:15PM
TV: League Pass
- Finding the right combination off the bench has been a struggle for Indiana Coach Frank Vogel, but the Pacers’ reserves produced 36 points Tuesday in a loss in Milwaukee – their most since mid-November. The Pacers’ bench ranks 25th in scoring (26.1), 27th in field goal percentage (.386) and 30th in 3-point percentage (.286).
- Tyler Hansbrough has come to life since his younger brother Ben has moved into the second unit rotation. In those four games, the elder Hansbrough has averaged 8.0 points on 63 percent shooting, a marked improvement from his previous averages of 5.9 points on 38 percent shooting. Vogel said the surge is likely coincidental, though “there is the running joke that he’ll make the jump shot if his brother passes it to him,” said the coach.
- Eastern Conference Player of the Week Paul George is making a run at Player of the Month for December. In eight games since bottoming out with a scoreless night at Golden State, George has averaged 22.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.63 steals and 1.13 blocked shots, shooting 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point line. “I put a lot of work in it,” George said, “so I would’ve been upset with myself if I continued to play the same way I played last year.”
- It’s a reunion week for the Pacers. After facing former teammates Mike Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels in Milwaukee, they see ex-point guards Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson with the Jazz tonight. Tinsley has salvaged his career by emerging as a reliable veteran in Utah. “He’s been a great pro, a great teammate,” said coach Ty Corbin. “He does all the little things you need to do to be successful in this league.” Tinsley is averaging 19.3 minutes, 2.9 points and 5.1 assists.
– Conrad Brunner
CAVALIERS at PACERS, 7 p.m. ET
December 12, 2012 · 6:27PM
TV: League Pass
- In an effort to solve his ongoing second-unit problem, Indiana Coach Frank Vogel has opted to double his dosage of Hansbroughs. Ben Hansbrough, the younger brother of Tyler Hansbrough, will replace D.J. Augustin as the backup point guard starting with tonight’s game. “We’ll see what it does for the second unit,” Vogel said. “Maybe a different guy or style of play can change things.” The younger Hansbrough, an undrafted rookie, was the Big East Player of the Year at Notre Dame in 2010-11 and spent last season playing professionally in Europe.
- One of the team’s touted offseason free-agent pickups, Augustin has been stunningly inept, averaging 13.0 minutes, 3.2 points and 2.3 assists, shooting .266 overall and .213 from the 3-point line. He has career averages of 10.3 points, 4.3 assists, .402 shooting overall and .366 from the arc. His demotion could be short-term but in the meantime Augustin needs to remain engaged while working to find his game. “It’s always a concern how a player is going to handle it when he’s taken out of the rotation,” Vogel said. “He’s got to stay bought-in, he’s got to stay sharp and he’s got to stay confident.”
- With Kyrie Irving’s return, the Cavs are closing in on having their full complement of players. Irving missed 11 games with a broken left index finger, but came back Tuesday and scored 28 points with 11 assists as Cleveland beat the Lakers 100-94 to snap a four-game losing streak. Cavs Coach Byron Scott said there will be no need to ease Irving back into the flow. “His easing back was last night when I threw him in there,” Scott said. “Once the doctor says you’re OK and you’ve practiced, you’re ready to go.”
- The Cavs are awaiting those developments for rookie guard Dion Waiters, who will miss his sixth straight game with a left ankle sprain. Cleveland also will be without reserve guard Omri Casspi (5.2 points, .442 from the 3-point line), who remained at the team hotel with a stomach ailment. Daniel Gibson, listed as a game-time decision with a hyperextended right elbow, said he will play.
– Conrad Brunner