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Open Game Thread #26: Pacers vs. 76ers

It's go time. If the Pacers want to attract positive attention and entrench themselves in the mix for a solid Eastern Conference playoff spot, they have to win games like the one waiting for them tonight at the Fieldhouse. The 10-14 Philadelphia 76ers are in town and offer the Pacers a great opportunity for their third straight win.

Will it be easy? Sorry, there's no such game on the schedule this year. Yeah, I saw the win over the Knicks. It was tied 64-64 midway through the third quarter and required Mike Dunleavy channeling Larry Joe Legend circa 1985 before the Pacers were able to pull away. The Sixers are coming off a win over LeBron and the Cavs and in Samuel Dalembert have the type of inside presence that has given the Pacers fits at times this year. Think back to Chris Kaman, Brendan Haywood, Emeka Okafor for quick reference. Andre Miller has been known to break down Jamaal Tinsley in the past. Andre Iguodala and Willie Green can heat up the scoreboard in a hurry. Plus, Louis Williams is an emerging backcourt talent coming off the bench with Kyle Korver, and we've all seen Korver unleash a Kapono-esque binge from 3-land.

There, you've officially been warned. The Pacers must show up tonight and earn the W or else leave the court red-faced with an L hanging around their neck. The Blue and Gold only have 48 precious minutes to get it done tonight and they need work through each minute with the singular focus winning the current possession. As long as the Pacers take care of the little things and play their style of game the W should be there for the taking.

Check out Bruno's Scouting Report for more on the game. We learn that the Pacers' plane had mechanical problems delaying their return to Indy and preventing them from practicing yesterday. Could that have been the basketball gods intervening to give the Pacer players' mind, body, and basketball soul a little respite? O'B has them on the grind and don't get me wrong, it's working. But maybe the unintended break will refreshen a few weary legs and ensure oncourt energy won't be a problem tonight.

How's that for postitive spin? Regardless of travel issues, once the opening tip is tossed, there are no excuses. Just win.

Here's what the efficiency numbers say:

Team Pace Off.Eff. Def.Eff.
IND 97.5(2nd) 106.8(15th) 106.7(14th)
PHI 89.0(23rd) 104.0(22nd) 104.6(6th)

Projected Starters
Jermaine O'Neal F Reggie Evans
Danny Granger F Andre Iguodala
Troy Murphy C Samuel Dalembert
Mike Dunleavy G Willie Green
Jamaal Tinsley G Andre Miller

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