Indiana Pacers Preview: The Atlanta Hawks are in town


The Indiana Pacers begin a tough week tonight against eastern conference counterparts the Atlanta Hawks at Bankers Life after the away win at Minnesota.

WHO: Indiana Pacers (17-12) v. Atlanta Hawks (20-12)
WHEN: Tonight, 7 pm ET / 6 pm CT
WHERE: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)

RADIO: 1070 the Fan

The Pacers
Defensive issues on the road had become a theme for the Indiana Pacers… until the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves, that is. Despite allowing the T’wolves a four-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes, the Pacers held their opponents to just 20 4Q points while putting up 36 to seal a 102-88 win.

Now, the shift focuses to a very strong Atlanta Hawks team, that, for the most part, Indiana is familiar with.

The Pacers are still waiting on Paul George to kick out of the slump that fans have seen him in the past two or so weeks, but where George struggles, Monta Ellis has bloomed. Ellis has been a major driving force of the Indiana offense while Indiana’s lone all-star searches for his rhythm. Along with Ellis, C.J. Miles has helped to pick up slack and bench play has been solid on the Blue & Gold end, as Jordan Hill continues to prove himself a useful acquisition.

To win tonight, the Pacers will need to hit very nearly 50% of their shots against one of the better defenses in the league. Though three-point shooting has been a talking point for Indiana due to the high success rate, the hosts will need to be even more accurate from the perimeter. Finally, Atlanta scores at a similar rate to Indiana but have struggled on the road – this has to be a point of emphasis for Coach Frank Vogel’s squad this evening.

The Hawks
Despite looking a similar team to Indiana in points scored and points allowed, the Hawks are one of the better shooting teams, sitting top-five in FG%.

Led by Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague in scoring, the Hawks average just under 102 points per game compared to the Pacers, who are just under 103 points per. However, Atlanta has for more balanced scoring, with five players averaging double figures while Kyle Korver is sitting a shade low at 9.9 points per game.

However, looking at Atlanta on the road in their last six visits elsewhere spanning back to November 13, the Hawks are 1-5 with a lone win over Memphis to show for. Additionally, they are averaging well under 100 points per game when travelling, a promising sign for Indiana, who have failed to reach the 100-point mark at home just once this month.

Though a tough test is at hand tonight, Atlanta is plenty beatable given their history on the road. However, like was shown against Sacramento last Wednesday, Indiana cannot afford to give up too much to the visitors and will need to be sound on both levels.

Tonight’s tip set for 7:00 pm ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.