(Sports Network) - The Indiana Pacers will try to continue their great play of
late on Friday night when they visit the Central Division-rival Cleveland
The Pacers have won four of their last five and seven of the past nine. They
are the third-ranked defensive team in the NBA and have only allowed two teams
to score over 100 points in December.
On Wednesday, the Pacers walloped the Utah Jazz, 104-84, in Indianapolis.
Gerald Green led the way with 21 points off the bench, while Paul George had a
double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds and George Hill scored 20 with
five assists and five boards.
"The defense led to offense a lot for us tonight and it hasn't done that
enough for us this year," said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. "Our offense is
coming. When we didn't get stuff that was created by our defense, we executed
well on the offense end."
The Pacers have snuck into second place in the Central, just a game behind the
The Pacers have some nagging injuries, but starters Roy Hibbert (bruised left
thigh) and Lance Stephenson (sprained right ankle) are both expected in the
The Cavaliers won't be so lucky.
Anderson Varejao, the NBA's leading rebounder, is expected to miss Friday
night's division showdown with a right knee contusion. Daniel Gibson is also
doubtful with a right ankle sprain.
Tyler Zeller is expected to start in Varejao's absence. He started for the
first time in his career against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and played
for the first time in almost a month without a protective face mask.
"Incredible. The little touch shots and stuff," said Zeller, who had a double-
double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. "I shoot a lot of those around the rim
out of the corner of my eye. It's nice to be able to do that again and not try
to whip my head around to find the rim."
The Cavaliers have been a mess of late. They have lost five in a row and are
1-10 in the month of December. Their only victory came on Dec. 11 when Kyrie
Irving returned from a broken hand and guided Cleveland over the visiting Los
Cleveland has allowed over 100 points in their last three games, including the
103-91 loss in Boston on Wednesday. All five Cavaliers' starters scored in
double-figures, but the Celtics, led by 40 from Paul Pierce, shot a blistering
59.7 percent from the field.
It should come as no surprise that Cleveland ranks last in the NBA in
opponents' field-goal percentage. They are 23rd in points allowed.
The Pacers are 9-1 against the Cavaliers in their last 10, including a recent
96-81 victory in Indianapolis on Dec. 12. The Pacers have taken four of their
last five in Cleveland.
The Sports Network