INDIANAPOLIS –Indiana Pacers point guard Darren Collison, who suffered a sprained left ankle in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series with the Bulls, will be a “game-time decision” for Game 3. But if it’s up to him, he’s playing.
”[I’m] optimistic,” Collison said Thursday after participating in the Pacers’ shootaround at Conseco Fieldhouse –his first activity since suffering the injury Monday night. ”It’ll be one of those things where I test it [prior to the game] and go. I think my adrenaline will be up, though. The energy, the excitement of trying to play in Game 3. It’s a playoff game. I don’t know where I’m going to get my chance again, so I’m definitely going to be up for it.”
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Collison looked “pretty good” at the shootaround, but he’ll wait to see how Collison looks in pregame warmups before deciding whether he’ll play.
”He wants to play very badly,” Vogel said. ”If it’s up to him, it’s a no-brainer. We just have to make sure he’s effective.”
It remains to be seen not only whether Collison will play, but whether the Bulls will be able to take advantage of Collison should he play. A gimpy Collison defending red-hot Derrick Rose is a mismatch. But in Game 2, Vogel put 6-8 off-guard Paul George on Rose, with Collison defending Keith Bogans.
Vogel can minimize exposing the Collison to a beating by Rose by doing the same thing in Game 3. And he is unlikely to pay the price because the 6-5 Bogans isn’t an offensive threat who can take advantage of the 6-0 Collison. Bogans had three points on 1-of-5 shooting, including 1-of-4 on three-point shots, in Game 2.
”I’ll pick my spots. I know exactly where to be aggressive, where not to be aggressive and hide throughout the defense,” Collison said when asked about going against Rose. ”But I’m not really concerned with that. They know you have an ankle injury, so you know they’re going to try and run plays [at] you. So I’m well aware of that and I’m prepared for that.”
While Rose has dominated the series, averaging 37 points per game, the Pacers have countered effectively. In Game 1, Collison and Price combined for 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting (4-of-5 on three-pointers), with 10 assists and two turnovers. In Game 2, Collison, Price and A.J. Ford combined for 26 points on 7-of-15 shooting (3-of-6 on three-pointers), with three assists and seven turnovers.