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Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers: Regular-season game six open thread

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The Essentials:

Wizards (2-3) vs. Pacers (1-3)
7:00 p.m.
Conseco Fieldhouse
Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Notable very early Pacers numbers this season

26th in expected winning percentage (.250)
3rd in pace (100.8 possessions per game)
26th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (96.5)
18th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (105.1)

Notable Pacers numbers last season

18th in expected winning percentage (.463)
3rd in pace (96.5 possessions per game)
18th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (108.1)
19th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (109.2)

Pre-game links

Indy Cornrows, SB Nation's Pacers Blog
Eight Points, Nine Seconds, an Indiana Pacers blog game preview - Tyler Hansbrough to play, Pacers deceased owner Melvin Simon to be honored
Pacers Insider with Mike Wells, Indy Star
Michael Lee: Nick Young to start
Wizards Insider: The other side: Pacers
Chat on Comcast SportsNet with Rashad Mobley from Hoops Addict
Jeff Rabjohns of the Indy Star writes about Roy Hibbert's development
GameDay Indiana

Tonight's Projected Starters
Wizards vs. Pacers
Gilbert Arenas
PG T.J. Ford
Nick Young
SG Brandon Rush
Caron Butler
SF Dahntay Jones
Fabricio Oberto
PF Danny Granger
Brendan Haywood
C Roy Hibbert

It's too early to talk about must-win games (hell, is it ever not?) but this is a game the Wizards need to get. Yes, they're on the road, and yes, the Pacers crowd might be charged up from what should be a very moving ceremony when they honor the late Melvin Simon, the co-owner of the team. But Indiana is not a very good basketball team at all, and they'll be made worse because of injuries to Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster and Travis Diener.

Indiana is coming off their first win of the season, but it came against the hapless New York Knicks. With Danny Granger disqualified due to fouls, T.J. Ford stepped up and carried the Pacers to victory. Apparently, Ford said his confidence wasn't high, and the game against the Knicks did a lot to restore it. If by "restore it," he means "gave me the chance to just shoot every time," then yes, I guess is confidence is restored. In all seriousness, Ford is a point guard who tends to pound the dribble a lot and shoot. If he's passing, it's usually to get an assist, and not because he's trying to move the ball. Otherwise, expect him to be active trying to score the ball. You hear me, Gilbert?

The other interesting thing is that, if I read that lineup right, Danny Granger is playing power forward. That's pretty much exclusively by necessity, since Murphy and Foster are injured. But then who guards Granger? You'd think there's no way Fabricio Oberto is going to chase Granger around all night (that would be ... funny to watch), but then who does Oberto guard? Dahntay Jones? Maybe this is a night where Oberto leaves the game early and we see a lot of small lineups. I also don't exactly trust Andray Blatche to guard Granger, who operates so much like a perimeter player. I guess that leaves Caron Butler, but Butler isn't so great at navigating through screens and off-ball defense, which is Granger's specialty. Then again, without Murphy and Foster available, the screens shouldn't be as hard to navigate through.

Another matchup to watch is the Hibbert/Haywood matchup. Hibbert's played well to start the year, with a 19.3 PER and an outstanding rebound rate (he's snagging over 21% of all misses). Haywood did an excellent job on Jermaine O'Neal yesterday and Brook Lopez last Saturday, but did not do a great job on Shaquille O'Neal or Al Horford. Hibbert's probably closer to the former group, but it'll be interesting to see them do battle.

The bottom line with Indiana is to cut off the three-point line and push the ball back at them. Indiana has fewer shooters than last year, with Murphy out and Dahntay Jones now playing a lot, but you have to watch out for Granger and Brandon Rush behind that line. Then, when they miss, their transition defense is very poor, so always be willing to push the ball back at them.

Finally, Tyler Hansbrough's supposed to play for the first time tonight. That should be interesting. And ... that's all I gotta say about that. I will pose this question though -- would Tyler Hansbrough look good in an Eastern Motors ad? I was kind of underwhelmed by his performance in the video above.

Game's at 7. GO WIZARDS!