INDIANAPOLIS – If it were up to Darren Collison, he would be starting for the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of their first-round Eastern Conference series against the Chicago Bulls Thursday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.
It is, of course, not up to Collison as much as it is up to his sprained left ankle, the professional opinions of the team’s medical staff and the balance as judged by head coach Frank Vogel between how much Collison might help vs. hurt the Pacers’ chances.
In other words, we’re looking at the proverbial game-time decision.
“He wants to play very badly. If it was up to him, it’s a no-brainer,” Vogel said after shootaround Thursday morning. “We’re just going to make sure he’s all right. … This was his first live work since [Game 2 Monday in Chicago]. So we’ll see how he feels tonight.”
Collison, who averaged 13.2 points and 5.1 assists as Indiana’s starting point guard, will go through his usual pregame routine – no special drills. After his bosses observe and evaluate, they all will huddle to determine whether it’s Collison or backup A.J. Price at tipoff.
Collison got hurt when he stepped on a cameraman on the baseline in the second quarter of Game 2, and the Pacers went from a 45-36 lead to a 96-90 defeat. Price and T.J. Ford combined for 11 points and 2 rebounds the rest of the way, while Indiana’s offense shot 40.5 percent and had 12 turnovers to 10 assists.
“It’s not going to be 100 percent perfect,” Collison said after the morning session. “But the more movement I get, the better it feels. I’ll pick my spots [defensively]. I know were to be aggressive, where not to be aggressive. … The thing about it is, they know you have an ankle injury, so they’re going to try to run plays for you. I’m well aware of that and I’m going to prepare for that.”
With Vogel using off-guard Paul George on the Bulls’ Derrick Rose much of the time, Collison guarded perimeter guys Keith Bogans and Kyle Korver in Game 2. So if Chicago changed its point of attack to exploit Collison, that would be fine with the Pacers.