Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Hawks 120208


Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2011 at Atlanta
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (17-7) vs. Hawks (16-9)

By Conrad Brunner

SCOUTING THE PACERS: Once again, the Pacers avoided their first losing streak of the season with a 104-99 victory over Utah Tuesday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse but the nature of the game does not set them up well for the back-to-back in Atlanta. Just when it looked like the starters could get plenty of rest, as the team built a 21-point lead in the third quarter, Utah came all the way back to force an intense fourth quarter, so tired legs could be a factor. The Pacers are one of three teams in the NBA without consecutive losses this season (the others are Chicago and Philadelphia).

After this brief trip (which includes a game in Memphis Friday) the Pacers do not play consecutive road games the rest of the month, finishing February with six of eight at home, where they are 7-2. Indiana has been one of the strongest road teams in the league with a 10-5 record and will once again get the opportunity to snap a long skid. They've dropped their last eight in Atlanta with the last win coming in 2006. The Pacers already have snapped road losing streaks of nine (Chicago), seven (Boston and Dallas) and six (Orlando).

SCOUTING THE HAWKS: The course of Atlanta's season could've changed when last the teams met as Al Horford sustained the torn left pectoral muscle that could keep him out most of the season. The Pacers won that game 96-84 as Danny Granger scored 24. The Hawks have played well in Horford's absence, going 9-5 without their star center but they've dropped three in a row as the offense has struggled, averaging just 84.7 points against the Grizzlies, Sixers and Suns.

Smooth Joe Johnson (18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists) is doing his usual thing and Josh Smith (15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists) is one of the most versatile and athletic power forwards in the game. Indianapolis native Jeff Teague (12.6 points, 5.0 assists) is coming on strong at the point and the Hawks have gotten a big lift off the bench from veterans Willie Green, Tracy McGrady and Vladimir Radmanovic.

KEY MATCHUP: With big men Horford and Jason Collins out, the Hawks likely will rely more heavily than usual on their explosive 3-point shooting. They rank third in the league with a percentage of .390. Marvin Williams (.462) ranks ninth in the league, Teague (.447) 16th and Green (.429) tied for 25th. Johnson is tied for ninth in 3-pointers made (49) and his hitting .383.

QUOTE MARKS: "What (fans) have been asking for, we now have. We’re fun and we play the right way. We’ve had a little success early and we want to sustain." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Jeff Foster (lower back) is day-to-day, while George Hill (chip fracture is out. For the Hawks, Al Horford (torn left pectoral muscle) and Jason Collins (sprained left elbow) are out.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 7. The game will also be carried nationally by NBA TV. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play, with Kevin Lee hosting the pre-game and halftime shows.

INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.

NEXT HOME GAME: The Pacers host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7:00 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets. Saturday is also a Lucas Oil Family Night in which you receive a t-shirt and vouchers for a hot dog, chips and Pepsi product with select ticket purchases.