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Open thread: Regular season game 7

The essentials:
Pacers (3-4) at Wizards (1-5)
7 p.m.
Verizon Center

This year:
October 31: Pacers 119, Wizards 110 (OT).

Last year:
November 8: Wizards 117, Pacers 91.
March 14: Wizards 112, Pacers 96.
April 18: Wizards 98, Pacers 95.

Notable Pacers numbers this season (pound the salt):
16th in expected winning percentage (.433).
4th in pace factor (98.1 possessions per game).
23rd in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (100.5).
11th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (102.4).

Notable Pacers numbers last season
21st in expected winning percentage (.398).
9th in pace factor (91.1 posessions per game).
30th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (104.2).
11th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (107.7).

Key links
Indy Cornrows.
Pacers Pulse
Pacers Pulse: Pacers need to play full 48 minutes
Ivan blogs about practice, Eddie Jordan, and Tom Thibodeau
Bill Simmons makes no sense (this is a future post)
Indy Cornrows blog preview.
Pacers Pulse blog preview.
Competition discussion: Indiana

Starting lineups:

PG: Jamaal Tinsley
SG: Mike Dunleavy
SF: Danny Granger
PF: Troy Murphy
C: Jermaine O'Neal

PG: Gilbert Arenas
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Caron Butler
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's lines:
Pacers at Wizards: Wizards by 5
Over/Under on Big 3 scoring: 61.5 points.

As mentioned yesterday, the schedule really opens up for the rest of the month.  Our next seven opponents are a combined 12-27, so if we can't win get back to .500 by the end of this stretch, we really are a worse team than we thought.

There's really no excuse for not winning tonight.  Indiana's reeling, having lost four straight, and is on the second game of a back to back after being drilled by the Celtics at home last night.  Jim O'Brien's up-tempo offense has crumbled a bit against tougher opponents, and guys like Mike Dunleavy are falling back to earth.  Jermaine O'Neal is back, but he's been his overrated self, averaging just 13.2 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting 39 percent from the field.  Simply put, he's no longer an impact player, and I'd argue he hurts the Pacers now because he slows them down.

The reason the Wizards lost the first game was that they couldn't cut off the three-point line or stop Jamaal Tinsley in the fourth quarter.  Those have to be the points of emphasis, especially with Tinsley.  Gilbert's gotta devote energy to the defensive end and let Caron Butler do more offensively, especially if Mike Dunleavy is guarding him.

Transition defense will also be key.  Indiana, under O'Brien, has become a team that runs for three pointers, not layups.  Guys absolutely have to be cognizant of that, so don't sink as far into the paint as normally.  

Offensively, I think we'll be fine, so long as the shot selection improves.  O'Neal is a defensive presence, but he's not as good as he used to be, and we did a fine job driving to the rim in games O'Neal played last year.  Gilbert can't do as much as he did in the first Indiana game; Jamison, Butler, and the rest have to play better.

But seriously, this just has to be a win.  If it's not, we have problems.

This is an open game thread, so recall here when giants Rik Smith and Gheorghe Muresan used to match up against each other.