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Open Game Thread #21: Pacers at Cavaliers

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Well, so much for a quiet, restful three days off. Maybe with four games in five days, things will begin returning to normal (and I'm talking about me, not the Pacers). One thing about the Pacers this year, when you think you know what should happen, the opposite often occurs. So I should be feeling good about tonight's game because it seems like a loss is waiting for the Pacers in Cleveland. LeBron will be revved up for his return, as will Anderson Varejao. The Cavs have been stuggling big time, so all of their spirits should be lifted with the return of King James and some front court depth. Meanwhile, the Pacers have endured a sullen couple of days, sorting through deep thoughts unrelated to basketball and encountering a hounding media presence. Their guiding force thus far in the season, became a lightening rod for more drama, so just where Jamaal Tinsley's head and emotions will be tonight is anyone's guess.

So, how can this game swing in the Pacers favor? Well, if the Pacers don't have to rely on Tins to do more than his part they should hang around. If Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy can hit the magic 20 point mark, a win should be there for the taking. They'll probably need some help from the Cavs though, so since LeBron hasn't played in a couple of weeks, maybe his shot will be off a bit as he works himself back into his one-of-a-kind playing rhythm. Varejao needs to work himself in to shape, so his flopping skills might not be game-ready, leading to foul calls instead of charges drawn. Sounds plausible to me.

Don't forget Bruno's Scouting Report. Jermaine O'Neal and David Harrison are day-to-day. I expect J.O. to play, but since Harrison missed the last game, we'll wait until Stacy Paetz gives us the goods.

Here's what the efficiency numbers say:

Team Pace Off.Eff. Def.Eff.
IND 98.1(2nd) 105.3(19th) 105.9(12th)
CLE 90.9(13th) 104.1(20th) 110.6(25th)

Hard to trust the Cavs numbers since LeBron and other role players have been missing lately.

Projected Starters
PACERS pos. CAVALIERS
Jermaine O'Neal F Drew Gooden
Danny Granger F LeBron James
Jeff Foster C Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Mike Dunleavy G Larry Hughes
Jamaal Tinsley G Eric Snow

Feel free to leave your thoughts on the game in the comments.