76ers-Pacers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 16, 2013
Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel discussed resting his players in preparation for the playoffs, but the manner in which that extra rest was granted has to leave an uneasy feeling. After having their last game canceled due to the tragic events in Boston, the Pacers conclude the regular season Wednesday night against a visiting Philadelphia 76ers team hoping to send coach Doug Collins out on a high note. Vogel seemed prepared to rest an unspecified number of players for Monday's road game versus the Celtics, but two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon that left at least three dead and hundreds injured forced the cancellation of that contest. After releasing a statement accounting for each member of the team, Indiana traveled home to prepare for its regular-season finale. The Central Division champion Pacers (49-31) are guaranteed the Eastern Conference's third seed after falling 90-80 to second-place New York on Sunday. They are on the verge of winning 50 games for the first time since 2003-04 but have been struggling down the stretch. Indiana has dropped four of five while allowing 100.4 points per game, nearly 10 above its season average. Paul George, the Pacers' leading scorer at 17.4 points per game, finished 3 for 12 from the field and 1 of 8 from 3-point range while scoring nine points Sunday. He's averaging 10.8 points and shooting a dismal 28.3 percent over the last five. "We haven't really earned (the No. 3 seed) as far as getting the win and solidifying it ourselves," George said. "We're just not taking care of business." Vogel believes that's partly due to fatigue after the Pacers committed a season-worst 26 turnovers Sunday. "Got a couple of guys banged up and a couple of guys with dead legs," Vogel said. "Paul George's 3-point shot is not even close. He's been playing too many minutes." It's unclear if Vogel's plan to rest players has changed with the extra day off, but the Pacers surely will be in for a challenge against a motivated 76ers team likely playing its last game with Collins as coach. Multiple reports have indicated Collins will be stepping down following a season that began with high expectations after the acquisition of Andrew Bynum but will end with the 76ers missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons under Collins. Philadelphia (33-48) never played a game with the injured Bynum, and Jason Richardson was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in January. "(I think about having Bynum) each and every day," forward Thaddeus Young said. "If we had the big fella in the middle, a bunch of things could change. This team was assembled to play around him. At the end of the day, it happened where he couldn't play this season. We'll try and take all the positives and bring them into next season." Collins wouldn't discuss his future before or after Monday's 109-101 loss at Detroit that snapped a two-game winning streak, but he said his team will be relaxed heading into the season finale. "I like what this team is doing, and it is a fun group," Collins said. "I told them that it is supposed to be great weather in Indy (on Tuesday), so we'll take the day off, enjoy ourselves and then get together for one last good game." Indiana won the first two meetings this season before Jrue Holiday scored 27 points and dished out 12 assists in Philadelphia's 98-91 home win March 16.
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