Warriors seek season sweep of red-hot Pacers

Warriors seek season sweep of red-hot Pacers
February 26, 2013, 11:30 am
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Paul George's 17.6 points per game leads Indiana. The Warriors held him scoreless back on Dec. 1. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Jarrett Jack's playing as well as anybody in the league right now. Steph Curry should have been an All-Star, clearly.
—Pacers coach Frank Vogel

Programming note: Warriors Pregame Live begins at 3:30 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, followed by Warriors-Pacers at 4:00, and Warriors Postgame Live following the final buzzer.

Coming out of the All-Star break a week ago, the Warriors were reeling.

Five straight losses before the break came before an uninspired loss at Utah in the first game back. What had once been assumed -- a playoff berth – no longer had an aura of certainty.

Not with the way the team was playing. Not if it allowed 117.5 points per game as it did during the losing streak.

How quickly things change.

Golden State (33-23) has won its last three, including a 107-101 overtime thriller against San Antonio on Friday, and, again, looks on solid ground as far as making the playoffs is concerned.

Of the final 22 games of the season, 16 will be played at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors are 18-7 this year. And of those 22 games, 14 opponents currently have a losing record. It’s a stretch that could shift the conversation from whether the team will get in to whether it will improve its seed.

Although, the No. 6 seed, where Golden State currently sits, might be the team’s most desired landing spot within reason if it means a first-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers, who it took the season series from, three games to one.

A win Tuesday at Indiana (35-21), which figures to be one of the toughest games left on the schedule, would be on par with beating San Antonio. The Pacers have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, have won four straight and sport a 23-5 record on their home floor.

For Indiana, it’s all about defense. Well, defense and first-time All-Star Paul George.

The Pacers rank No. 1 in the NBA in scoring defense (89.4 ppg) and rebounding (46.0), while George has had a breakout year averaging 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

George also has some extra incentive for Tuesday’s game. In the teams’ first meeting, a 103-92 Warriors win in December, George was held scoreless for the only time this season.

"Golden State obviously, was one of our tough losses early in the season and gave us all they can handle,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel, via NBA.com. “Jarrett Jack's playing as well as anybody in the league right now. Steph Curry should have been an All-Star, clearly. I don’t know how he wasn't an All-Star when you watch him play and look at his numbers.”

Former All-Star Danny Granger made his season debut Saturday for Indiana, scoring two points in 19 minutes off the bench. Granger was just 1-for-10 from the field after missing the first 55 games with a left knee injury. He is expected to be limited to less than 20 minutes.

"My leg is feeling good. I’m still dealing with some soreness, it comes and goes but it’s getting less and less over the past few weeks,” Granger said. “Now it’s mostly just getting into rhythm and getting used to playing."

Notes
-- Coach Mark Jackson played for the Pacers in parts of six seasons. Between 1994 and 2000, Jackson appeared in 405 games for Indiana, including the 1996-97 season when he averaged 12.3 assists per game.

-- Golden State is looking for its first season sweep of the Pacers since 2000-2001.

-- Warriors athletic trainer Chad Bergman was a ball boy for 13 years for the Pacers.

-- Warriors G Stephen Curry and Pacers F Danny Granger were teammates on the USA’s 2010 FIBA squad that won a gold medal in Turkey.

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