76ers-Pacers Preview

Starting with the health of their top playmaker, the

Philadelphia 76ers have some concerns as they head into one of the

toughest portions of their schedule.

It might not be the best time to face the Indiana Pacers, who

are coming off a historic defensive performance.

The 76ers will try to get off to a strong start with 12 of their

next 15 games on the road as they visit the defensive-minded Pacers

on Friday night.

After a 4-2 start on the road, Philadelphia (12-10) has lost its

last two contests away from home and four of six overall following

a 96-89 loss to Chicago on Wednesday night.

Jrue Holiday led Philadelphia with 26 points and nine assists,

giving him 51 and 17, respectively, in his last two games.

Holiday, however, was diagnosed with a left foot sprain

following the loss and is a game-time decision against the

Pacers.

“It’s very disconcerting,” coach Doug Collins said on

Thursday.

Holiday has missed only one game since becoming the starting

point guard in the 2009-10 season. That came last season when

Collins rested most of his starters in a 108-86 loss at Detroit in

the regular-season finale.

This season, Holiday is having a career year for the 76ers. He’s

averaging a team-high 18.4 points and ranks near the top of the NBA

at 8.9 assists per game. The 2009 first-round pick had 17 points in

both games at Indiana last season, and the teams split four games

last season.

“He’s a big part of what we’re doing,” guard Jason Richardson

said. “He’s our leading scorer and a guy who gets us into

things.”

If Holiday is unable to play, Evan Turner would handle most of

the point guard responsibilities.

Turner, who had 16 points against the Bulls, has been a

distributor from the forward spot with at least five assists in

seven of 22 contests. He has committed more than three turnovers

just once.

Thaddeus Young also looks to continue to his strong play,

averaging 18.1 points on 56.8 percent shooting in his last 10

games.

Philadelphia will take any spark they can get, scoring 86.0

points per game in its last four losses while averaging 102.2 over

its last six victories.

“We just have to continue to execute and put our pulse on the

game early,” Young said. “If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

It doesn’t figure to be easy against the Pacers (11-11), who

held Cleveland to 23 second-half points in a 96-81 victory on

Wednesday night.

It was the fewest points the Pacers allowed in a half since they

joined the NBA in 1976. They held the Cavaliers to 8 of 41 shooting

(19.5 percent) in the final two quarters while avoiding a third

straight loss.

Indiana leads the league in defensive field-goal percentage

(40.9) and ranks near the top in points allowed (91.3).

“We were contesting all of their shots and that’s what made it

tough for them,” guard Paul George said after the win.

George has had the hot hand offensively for Indiana, averaging

24.4 points while shooting 15 for 28 from beyond the arc over his

last five games.

“He’s becoming a special player and we have to hope that

continues,” coach Frank Vogel said.

Still, the Pacers haven’t scored 100 points in their last 12

games and rank near the bottom of the NBA in scoring at 91.0 points

per game.

However, they could get a boost from David West, who averaged

25.0 points in two home games against the 76ers last season.