Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

3 Things To Watch For: Sixers-Pacers Preview

1. Three point shooting

The Pacers came into Philadelphia executing their scorched net policy, hitting 13 of their 24 attempted three point shots. It wasn’t fluky, either. When you give a good shooting team open shots, they’ll make them. The Pacers have several good shooters, most notably Danny Granger, who hit 6 of his 8 threes. With Granger and the surrounding cast of good shooters on the perimeter, the Sixers have to execute their normal three point defense. That is, they must chase shooters away from the line and force them to shoot long twos.

But the problem with trying to prevent the three pointers is that they also have Roy Hibbert and David West to deal with in the paint. It’s difficult to both cover every shooter and to help on the bigs. It’s a catch-22 that leads to the next thing to watch for.

Also, the Sixers went 5-14 – a decent percentage, but not nearly as good as Indiana’s.

2. Deciding when to double team

No one Sixer can reliably guard Hibbert on his own. Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic aren’t strong enough. Elton Brand and Lavoy Allen aren’t tall enough. When Hibbert gets the basketball near the rim, we have to send help. unless we want him to score fairly easily. And since Roy’s an excellent passer and decision maker for a center, he can find open shooters or slashers.

Also, Malik Rose made an excellent point during Tuesday’s Sixers broadcast about Hibbert – when he sets up on the left block (which happens often), he goes to the middle nearly every time. Hibbert has a nice hook shot that he can get over nearly any defender, considering he’s roughly 7’2″, but if the defense forces him to turn over his other shoulder, his left-handed hook isn’t as good. If we send a double to cover the middle, he’ll either be forced to pass (which he’s very willing to) or turn over the other shoulder. The best option, in my eyes, is single coverage early in the shot clock when guarding the post, then sending a double when the shot clock has about 5-6 seconds left on it and he has the ball in that position. That way. if Hibbert decides to pass out of the double team it would likely lead to a rushed shot, and if he shoots it the shot is less than optimal. This is easier said than done, of course, but it’s the best course of action I can think of. He was an all-star this year for a reason.

On the other hand, David West is ridiculously strong, and having someone like Lavoy or Thaddeus Young on the defense against him is just asking for a beating. He’s also a shooting threat from up to 20 feet. Now, I’d rather have him take the shots than, say, Granger. But if he shoots 5-16 again it would be a minor miracle. His mid range attempts are something we may just have to live with.

3. Scoring from the starters

The Sixers need more scoring from the starting five if they want to win this game. I’m primarily looking at Jodie Meeks. I understand that the threat of a three point shooter like Meeks is valuable even if he is struggling. However, sometimes we actually need the scoring, given we’re so bad at it that we need to scratch for every point we can get. He doesn’t need to go for 30, though that would be lovely. But hitting 2 or 3 three pointers will go a long way to winning tonight. He didn’t hit any on Tuesday, which helped the Sixers starters get outscored by the bench again. Jrue Holiday going 6-6 on threes again wouldn’t hurt either, however unlikely it would be.

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Tags: Danny Granger David West Elton Brand Indiana Pacers Jodie Meeks Jrue Holiday Lavoy Allen Nikola Vucevic Roy Hibbert Spencer Hawes Thaddeus Young

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