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Mavericks at Pacers preview: Dallas avoid Paul George's return but may miss Monta Ellis

There aren't many clearly winnable games left on the schedule, so Dallas has to take advantage of this one.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Pacers done lately?

Indiana was riding high ... and then they've lost seven of their last eight. Because of how ridiculously undertalented the East is, the Pacers are still only a game out of the eighth seed, but it'll require a surge in their final 10 games. While a motivated Indiana team could potentially be trouble, the Mavericks really should have no excuse for not being motivated themselves. The more concerning emotional swing was Paul George's potential return, which is supposed to happen any game now. However, he has already been ruled out by the team for Sunday's matchup.

What was the other Pacers game like?

As an East team, Dallas had one other meeting with Rick Carlisle's former coaching home. However, there's not too much we can glean from it, considering it came in November. The Pacers beat the Mavericks 111-100 in one of their very few losses to below .500 teams this season -- mostly, Dallas takes care of its business when going up against lower quality opponents. Brandan Wright went 6-6 in that game and Dirk Nowitzki posted one of his few double-doubles this year with 22 points and 11 rebounds! But yeah, this was way too long ago for it to mean much now.

How do the Pacers play?

Up until this rut, Indiana had been on a roll since George Hill returned in late January. He gave them one more piece as a defender and penetrating guard who gave a desperately needed boost on both ends of the floor. The Pacers have rolled with a spread out, deep rotation that uses up to 10 players a game, diversifying their scoring across several shoulders. The defense is still good with Roy Hibbert and David West manning the front court. If Paul George returns, they're a fascinating eighth seed that Atlanta would probably prefer not to face (although make no mistake, the Hawks would still beat them).

Which Maverick might be due for a big game?

Chandler Parsons may have a bit more attention dialed onto him thanks to Ellis' likely absence, so I've got Dirk Nowitzki coming through with his dad strength and dropping 25 or so.

Game information

Dallas plays at 6 p.m. CT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana on FSSW