Indiana Pacers (22-45) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (53-15)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
7:00 PM EST
This final stretch of games in March is the last little lull for the Cavaliers this season. With games against Atlanta (twice), Orlando, Boston, and Toronto in April, the rest of this month is the last chance to really play around with lineups, give guys rest, and see further get acquainted to what all you can do with Antawn Jamison in your lineup. Tonight’s game is a home against one of the absolute worst teams in the NBA who happen to be without their best player and superstar (and yes, if you’ve seen Danny Granger play, you know he’s a superstar whether the fans and media realize it or not), so it should be an easy win, right? Well, Indiana did just beat the Bobcats, a team the Cavaliers cannot beat, last night with Granger in for most of the game. So just remember, this is still a game between professionals and anyone can win if you let them hang around long enough.
Key Reserves: Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams, Leon Powe
Injuries: Shaquille O’Neal (out), Sebastian Telfair (out)
Cleveland 105 at Indiana 95 – 11/20/09 [box]
Cleveland 94 at Indiana 73 – 11/29/09 [box]
Fri, Apr 9 at Cleveland
Indiana has a good amount of size, particularly with Hibbert and Murphy. With the way Troy Murphy plays, he’s actually a half way decent matchup for Jamison. Murphy’s first step may be slow, but he’s deceiving with it and he likes to try to sneak by opponents to get into the lane. Otherwise, he’s staying outside and launching jumpers. Jamison’s charge is to just be mindful of Murphy’s attempts to drive. If Murphy’s on, he’s going to make a lot of shots and that’s something you have to live with as a defense. So there’s no reason to make things any easier for him whatsoever by letting him drive from time to time.
As for Hibbert, this is going to be a severe test of Hickson’s ability. Hickson did a great job on Tim Duncan the other night, showing he can matchup with bigger opponents, and Hibbert’s lack of athleticism is a plus for JJ. However, Hibbert’s size and strength is going to be a handful for JJ. If the Pacers can get Hibbert unleashed, it will free up room for Murphy, Rush, and Dunleavy to score a lot of points. We know the Cavaliers have been playing just lousy defense for over a month, now, so Indiana could give Cleveland more problems than anyone realizes. As usual, though, it will all be based on the effort Cleveland gives in the 4th quarter, which is usually off the charts.