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PREGAME: Wizards vs. Pacers

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Regular Season Game 11

Indiana (8-5) at Washington (6-4)

November 24, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

April 14, 2015 – Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis: Pacers 99, Wizards 95 (ot)
READ: Game Notebook 81, Wizards at Pacers: Wiz Lose Battle For Futile Vengeance


What to watch

A winning streak? The Wizards are looking to extend their season long winning streak to four games. It won’t be easy. The Pacers are 8-5, and sitting in 4th in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are in 7th, at 6-4. Ten games is far too early to panic, but it’s not too early for reality, and here’s the reality: The East is not nearly as bad as we anticipated. As Wizards fans, we were almost taking for granted we’d be in the top four and have at least one home court playoff series, if not more. Instead, the East has 11 teams currently above .500, and there’s no reason to look at any of the teams hovering around the Wizards and think that they’re going to drop off in any significant manner. The Wizards are going to have to earn that top 4 seed. Shoot, they’re going to have to earn their playoff spot, period.

Beating the Pacers at home for a fourth straight win is a good step toward earning that spot. But this is not your 1 year old kid’s Pacers. Gone is the plodding, rim protecting, vertical Roy Hibbert. Gone is the pick-and-pop tough guy David West. Gone is the old, crafty, below-the-rim Luis Scola. Out with the slow, in with the new.

Monta Ellis has infused the offense with a burst of pace, and 11 players averaging at least 16 minutes per game means that fatigue will not be an issue. The Pacers don’t play as fast as the Wizards by any means, but they CAN play that way in decent sized spurts.

With Frank Vogel coaching, toughness has never been an issue. The Pacers have downsized physically, but the heart of the Pacers hasn’t changed. Speaking of the heart of the Pacers….


Key matchup

Paul George vs. Team Defense

After this gruesome leg injury over a year ago, Paul George is back, and he is better than ever. Thus far, George is averaging career high in points (25), rebounds (9), and assists (5). He is shooting 44% overall, and 42% from three. He has scored 20+ points in 9 consecutive games (with his last game being the only time in that stretch he was held under 25).

Guarding Paul George is not a one man effort. The Wizards defense will have to be up to the task, communicating on defense, and helping and recovering on time. George will attack in a variety of ways: He will run pick and roll from the top of the key, and off of both wings. He will post up, and score from the post, or pass effectively when the double team comes. He will pull-up from mid-range when you close the lane, and attack the rim when you don’t.

There’s a reason the Pacers sit at 4th in the East, and that reason’s name is Paul George.


X-Factor

Turnovers. The Wizards are averaging 14.2 turnovers per game in wins, but 19.0 turnovers per game in losses. The Pacers rank 2nd in the NBA, forcing 18.0 turnovers per game, and rank 3rd in the NBA in defensive rating. The Wizards can either take care of the ball, or take an L.


Fun factor

None. This is a game against the current 4 seed in the East, with one of the current top MVP candidates in the league, who currently look like they will be jockeying with the Wizards for playoff positioning all season long. This game is all business.

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Prediction

Wizards control the Pace. W.

we are Hoop District

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