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Bucks vs. Pacers Preview: Bucks finish season series with Central-leading Indiana

Two days after coming up short in Atlanta, the Bucks head to Indianapolis to close out their season series with the Pacers--the team they'd likely face in the first round should they manage to fight their way out of the 8th seed in the East.

Larry Sanders doing what most NBA players would like to do to Tyler Hansbrough.
Larry Sanders doing what most NBA players would like to do to Tyler Hansbrough.

2012/2013 NBA Season
(42-26, 27-8 home)
(34-33, 16-17 road)
March 22, 2013
Bankers Life Fieldhouse | Indianapolis, IN
6:00 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
George Hill PG Brandon Jennings
Lance Stephenson SG Monta Ellis
Paul George SF Marquis Daniels
Tyler Hansbrough PF Larry Sanders
Roy Hibbert C Sam Dalembert
2012/13 Advanced Stats
90.0 (25th) Pace 93.8 (6th)
103.9 (20th) ORtg 102.1 (20th)
98.8 (1st) DRtg 103.1 (11th)

On the Pacers: Indy Cornrows | Eight Points, Nine Seconds | SB Nation Indiana

Indy Update. No Danny Granger? No problem. Indiana just keeps plugging along without their supposed franchise player, having won their last two games by 20+ points and extending their division lead over the Bulls to 5.5 games. Meanwhile, it's been 24 games since the Bucks between anyone by more than even 10 points, which tells you everything you need to know about the Bucks' inability to play a complete 48 minutes. The Bucks are basically the NBA's equivalent of the guy who goes to the gym and hits up McDonald's on the way home--playing well seemingly only for the privilege of taking their foot off the gas, both within games and overall. The Bucks never seem to pull away from anyone, and the .500 mark has seemingly exerted a gravitational pull on their record all season.

The Bucks twice dispatched the Pacers in Milwaukee early in the season, but Indiana has seriously turned it around since starting the season 10-11. Frank Vogel's club has since gone 32-15 including 22-5 at home, which underscores how a team like the Pacers is different from a team like the Bucks.

Though Milwaukee's 16-17 road record is actually slightly better than Indy's 15-18, the Pacers have been exceptional at home (27-8) while the Bucks have been anything but (18-16). And statistically it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what differentiates the two teams: both score 103.9 points per 100 possessions, but the Pacers can fall back on the best defense in the NBA (98.8), while Milwaukee has dropped out of the top then at 105.0.

Hurt locker. Both teams could be missing their starting power forwards tonight, with David West questionable with a lower back injury and Ersan Ilyasova not expected to play due hip and back injuries. Our Steve von Horn has more:

The Pacers will be playing without Danny Granger (knee) and likely without David West (back), according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. Ersan Ilyasova (hip) will not be available to the Bucks, Luc Mbah a Moute (toe) is questionable and Monta Ellis is battling illness but could still play, according to Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Tyler Hansbrough has put up double-doubles starting in West's place the past two games (16 ppg, 12.5 rpg), and he also put up 19/10 in his only other start this season on February 13 in Charlotte. The only thing more aggravating than Hansbrough's rough-and-tumble style is the fact that he's actually pretty damn good, and he's put up 11.7 ppg and 5.3 rpg on sizzling 69% shooting in three games against the Bucks this season. On the other side, Sam Dalembert has given the Bucks additional size up front next to Larry Sanders, which should could come in handy against Roy Hibbert and the league's 4th-best offensive rebounding team (30.3%).

Roy. Speaking of Hibbert, his offensive game has come around a bit after a very slow start to the season that saw him shoot just 41% from the field and 69% from the line before the all-star break. Since then he's averaged 13.9 ppg while shooting 48.1% and 86.8% from the line. The primary driver of Hibbert's offensive struggles would seem to be his surprising inability to finish at the rim--he's shooting a horrendous 49% from point blank range this season after hitting nearly 58% last year. But part of the story is probably his penchant for tipping shots--nearly a third of his at-rim shots are tip-in attempts, where he's hit just 30 of 82 (36%).