Mar 27, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter talks with point guard Kendall Marshall (12) during the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Phoenix Suns (23-50) Vs. Indiana Pacers (46-27)

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The Phoenix Suns face an Indiana Pacers team Saturday night that will be without Danny Granger (knee) for the rest of the season.

The Suns look to avoid losing five consecutive home games for the first time since March 2004 despite holding the worst record in the Western Conference. Rookie point guard Kendall Marshall, who’s totaled 23 assists in his first two starts, explained this will not be an easy task against a Pacers team that’s been proficient in spite of Granger’s injury.

“Guys are making shots so that helps, but I’m more worried about the end result,” Marshall said. “We’re 0-2 with me starting so I don’t see it as a success at all.”

Suns Keys to the Game:

  • Start fast, play fast. The Pacers are number one in points allowed. So what’s the best way to beat a suffocating defense? Fast break points. Phoenix must have a run-and-gun offensive mentality to stand a chance vs. Indiana.
  • Play for pride. Everyone knows the Suns’ organization, whether they acknowledge it or not, must at least be glancing toward the offseason and the NBA Draft Lottery. This game, along with every other following it, is about pride.

Pacers Keys to the Game:

  • Dominant the glass. Indiana owns the boards this season as basketball’s top-rated rebounding team. With David West (back) able to suit up, the Pacers will likely have no trouble scoring in the low post.
  • Be mindful of the competition. Indiana’s fighting with the New York Knicks for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. With the playoffs approaching, the Pacers need every possible win if they hope to distance themselves from the Knicks.

Matchup to Watch:

Luis Scola vs. Roy Hibbert. It’s no secret Phoenix has struggled against the opposing franchise’s big man. Scola will certainly have his hands full defending Hibbert, who’s coming off his best offensive performance of the season with 28 points and 13 rebounds vs. the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

X-Factor:

Paul George. The Pacers’ small forward has stepped in and unquestionably filled the void left in Granger’s absence. The Suns must keep George below his average of 17 points and eight rebounds per game if the home team has any hope of winning this game.

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Tags: Indiana Pacers Phoenix Suns

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