What did the Pacers do over the summer?
The Indiana Pacers are certainly not the contender they have been over the past few seasons, largely in part to losing Paul George to a gruesome injury during a Team USA inter-squad showcase back on August 1. Couple that with losing Lance Stephenson to free agency, even if Indiana didn't want him back, and they're suddenly experiencing a dearth of talent at the 2 and 3. However, with Stephenson gone, the Pacers have seen second-year guard Solomon Hill grow into the starting role.
Of course, Stephenson didn't get along very well with Evan Turner, who wound up signing with the Boston Celtics in the offseason, which led to severe locker room issues for the Pacers down the stretch. Indiana was unable to replace these pieces with much, but they did manage to sign C.J. Miles, who dunked on me in high school, and Rodney Stuckey, who, well, is Rodney Stuckey.
What has Indiana done lately?
They've started the season 5-8, and are coming off of a 23-point home-loss to Phoenix. Roy Hibbert is the go-to guy these days, and he's leading the team with 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per contest. He and Luis Scola seem to be gelling with point guard Donald Sloan, but that hasn't translated into many wins quite yet. That could change soon.
What do the Mavericks need to do to be successful against the Pacers?
Rebound. Indiana is the second-best rebounding team in the NBA, and if Dallas wants to come away with a win they need to clean the glass. The Pacers are averaging 12.8 offensive rebounds a game, while the Mavs give up 12.3, so eliminating second chance points will also be crucial. Tyson Chandler, Brandan Wright, Dirk, and yes, even Chandler Parsons, are going to need to step up their rebounding game in a big way.
Indiana isn't the greatest three-point shooting team (they're shooting at a 32% clip collectively), so we may see quite a bit of zone defense in this game, as Dallas tries to keep Indiana out of the paint. That's where chasing down long rebounds and finding a man to box out become imperative (looking at you, guards).
Dallas has been beating up on bad teams all season, and this game shouldn't be any different. However, if you let bad teams hang around by getting offensive rebounds and second-chance points, anything can happen, so it's best to put them away early.