NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 23rd (All times Eastern)
Indiana Pacers (34-21) at Detroit Pistons (22-35), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Indiana Pacers have blown out each of their last three opponents by an average of 30 ppg and target a sweep of a home-and-home series against the Detroit Pistons Saturday night at The Palace.
The Central-leading Pacers have reached the 100-point mark in each of the last three wins and handed the division-rival Pistons a 114-82 setback Friday night in the finale of a five-game homestand. David West scored 18 points and was one of five starters in double figures. George Hill and All-Star Paul George netted 15 and 12 points, respectively, for Indiana, winners in eight of the last 10 games.
Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson both scored 10 points in the win.
"I think we've found our identity," said George. "We're a team that's uptempo, and with our smothering defense, it's the best of both worlds."
Indiana is first in points allowed (89.8 ppg) and field goal defense at 41.4 percent, and has scored 100 or more points in 10 of the past 17 games. The Pacers are also second in the East standings, 5 1/2 games behind the Miami Heat.
The Pacers will hit the road and are only 11-16 as the guest.
Saturday's game could mark the return of Pacers star forward Danny Granger, who's been sidelined all season with a knee issue. Granger has led the team in scoring in each of the last five years, and has been back at practice working diligently on returning soon.
Granger is expected to come off the bench for a limited time in order to get back in the swing of things.
"I think there's a chance. We're going to talk, see how he responded to his work today," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said recently of Granger's status.
Detroit had won four of six games until the Pacers spoiled the party with a thrashing Friday night.
Will Bynum scored 17 points off the bench and Viacheslav Kravtsov compiled 14 and 10 rebounds in a reserve role. Rodney Stuckey posted 11 points in defeat as the Pistons shot 35.4 percent and sank just 3-of-19 3-pointers. Indiana registered 24 points off 16 Pistons miscues.
"We didn't get anything done," Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva said. "They came out strong and we couldn't match it."
Pistons point guard Brandon Knight did not play due to a hyperextended right knee and is day-to-day.
Detroit is 15-16 at The Palace this season and has lost both matchups with Indiana. The Pacers, though, have dropped 10 of 14 games at the Pistons.
02/23 10:39:52 ET