Indiana (32-49) at Washington (25-56)

Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 50° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Wed Apr 14, 2010
  • TV: CSMA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Indiana Pacers have struggled to contend with the league’s elite, but they’ve done an excellent job taking advantage of matchups against teams such as the Washington Wizards in recent weeks.

In the finale of another lost season, the Pacers look to sweep their season series with the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Indiana (32-49) has failed to make the postseason for a fourth straight year, but it has played well since mid-March. The Pacers had won four straight and 10 of 12 before losing 118-98 to Southeast Division champion Orlando on Monday night.

It was a terrible performance for Indiana, shooting 40.9 percent, but it came against one of the league’s top teams.

“We just have to take the good with the bad,” point guard A.J. Price(notes) said. “This is the NBA.”

The Pacers have won nine straight against teams that haven’t qualified for the playoffs. Indiana beat league-best Cleveland 116-113 on Friday night, but the Cavaliers benched most of their starters, including LeBron James(notes).

The Pacers’ run against non-playoff clubs includes a 99-92 victory over Washington (25-56) on March 24. Indiana has won all three matchups with the Wizards this season and could pull off a season sweep for the first time since winning all four meetings in 2000-01.

Danny Granger(notes) had 31 points for the Pacers in the last matchup. The All-Star forward, though, wasn’t sharp versus the Magic, shooting 6 for 19 and finishing with 18 points.

Granger averaged 29.1 points over his previous 14 games. He’s facing a Washington team coming off one of its worst defensive games of the season, losing 114-103 to New York on Monday night.

“We went away from trusting our offense and started playing one-on-one basketball,” coach Flip Saunders told the Wizards’ official Web site. “That’s happened to us a lot in the fourth quarter.”

Washington has been one of the league’s worst teams for the second straight season and has dealt with plenty of turmoil, particularly the Gilbert Arenas(notes) saga, but there have been some bright spots.

Andray Blatche(notes) has been outstanding since joining the starting lineup two months ago, averaging 22.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in 31 games. He has come close to triple-doubles in each of his last two contests, posting 19 points, 10 boards and seven assists against the Knicks after finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 105-95 loss to Atlanta on Saturday night.

Blatche won’t be among the 10 free agents Washington could lose this summer, but Shaun Livingston(notes) is one such player the Wizards may decide to bring back.

“There is no question we would consider him,” Saunders said. “He has been a good fit for how we play. Just look at where he is now from where he was a month ago. Now his offseason is key.”

Livingston made it through two 10-day contracts with the Wizards before signing for the rest of the season March 19. The 6-foot-7 point guard, drafted fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004, is averaging 16.5 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 66.2 percent over his last eight games.

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Wednesday, Apr 14