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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, May 11th (All times Eastern)

(1) Indiana Pacers (2-1) at (5) Washington Wizards (1-2), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers put on a defensive clinic last time out and on Sunday, they'll go for a commanding series lead against the Washington Wizards in Game 4 at the Verizon Center.

The Pacers held the Wizards to a playoff-low 63 points on Friday night to easily take a 2-1 series lead. Indiana prevailed, 85-63, setting up a critical Game 4 on Mother's Day.

"That's what we want to be," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "We had great regular season success by being a dominant defensive team - limiting the 3- ball, keeping teams out of transition, limiting teams to one shot, being a dominant defensive rebounding team - and that's who our identity is. As you get further and further into the playoffs, it gets tougher and your margin for error is more slim."

The Pacers finished the regular season second in opponents' scoring and first in opponents' field-goal percentage. In all six of Indiana's postseason victories, the Pacers have held the opposition under 90 points.

"Defense is what we hang our hats on, so if you're a guy that loves defense, we're your team," noted Indiana All-Star forward Paul George.

Washington's previous low in a postseason game came in Game 5 of round one when they scored 75 against the Chicago Bulls.

"This was a clunker for us," Washington head coach Randy Wittman admitted. "There's no doubt about it."

The Pacers outscored the Wiz by 14 in the third quarter and that decisive stretch helped put the game away.

George poured in 23 points, including seven in the third quarter, as the Pacers turned a one-point halftime lead into a 60-45 cushion heading into the final frame.

Roy Hibbert followed up his 28-point night in Game 2 with 14 points and five rebounds on Friday, while David West donated 12 points for the Pacers, who are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 16 points and Trevor Ariza added 12 points and 15 boards, but the Wizards shot just 32.9 percent from the floor -- including 4-of-16 from 3-point range -- in dropping their second straight game.

John Wall tallied 15 points and six assists, but committed seven of Washington's 18 turnovers in the setback.

George scored all seven of his third-quarter points during a 21-5 push, which Lance Stephenson capped with a reverse layup for a 17-point Indiana advantage.

Beal supplied Washington's first nine points in the fourth to keep the Wizards within striking distance, but an 8-0 Indiana sprint -- capped by consecutive triples from George and George Hill -- gave the Pacers a 78-58 lead with 1:43 to play.

This was the first time the Washington faithful had a chance to see second- round playoff action since 2005. It was a putrid affair for sure, but all is not lost for the Wizards.

The Pacers have been one of the most inconsistent one seeds in recent memory and needed seven games to eliminate Atlanta in round one, despite the fact that the Hawks finished under .500.

"It was a good win but we're in no way satisfied," said Vogel. "We're playing against a great basketball team here and we have to keep coming back for more in Game 4."

Game 5 will be Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

05/11 10:30:52 ET

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