Darren Collison optimistic for Game 3

Updated: April 19, 2011, 8:54 PM ET
By Mark Montieth | Special to ESPNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Point guard Darren Collison is day to day as the Indiana Pacers prepare for Game 3 of their playoffs series with the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, and coach Frank Vogel says he is preparing to play without him.

Collison, however, was optimistic following the Pacers' video session at Conseco Fieldhouse on Tuesday. The left ankle sprain he suffered in the second quarter of Monday's game at the United Center remained a concern, but didn't leave him without hope.

"I'm a little optimistic," Collison said. "It's getting better as times goes on.

"I know if I'm there 60 to 70 percent I'm going to play. For me it's about controlling the game. Frank has done a good job with me of controlling the game, and sometimes you don't need to be at full strength to control the game."

Collison said the sprain, suffered after driving to the basket for a layup and falling into a cameraman, was a reinjury of a sprain suffered during practice in November that forced him to miss three games. It's been an issue throughout the season, but one he hopes to deal with the rest of the playoff series.

Second-year guard A.J. Price, a second-round draft pick in 2010, will get most of the minutes Collison leaves behind. He averaged 6.5 points in 50 games during the regular season but has averaged 10.5 points in the two games of this playoff series. Veteran T.J. Ford, who played just 41 games during the regular season, will be dusted off and used if Collison is limited. Ford averaged just 5.4 points during the regular season, but scored five points in nine minutes on Monday.

Ford, a former lottery pick, fell out of favor with former Pacers coach Jim O'Brien, and was left on the inactive list later in the season while the Pacers took a look at rookie point guard Lance Stephenson. Vogel said Ford should be able to step in despite his lack of recent playing time.

"The timeouts are longer in the playoffs; he'll get blows during timeouts," Vogel said. "We're not going to be asking him to play starter's minutes, so we're going to be fine."

Pacers want sea of blue: The last time the Pacers played the Bulls in Indianapolis, the capacity crowd at Conseco Fieldhouse included several thousand Bulls fans.

Vogel hopes his team's fan base can get the red out on Thursday.

"We need to fill the building with blue and gold," he said. "When we played them here during the regular season there were an awful lot of red shirts. We're going to have metal detectors up there not only to see if they're bringing metal into the building, but also to make sure they're not wearing red, either."

Mark Montieth is a special contributor for ESPNChicago.com.

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