Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 7:30 PM ET at Philips Arena
Game Preview: Pacers (37-10) at Hawks (25-21)
Wheat Hotchkiss | Updated: February 3, 2014, 11:20 p.m.
The Pacers head to Atlanta on Tuesday to take on the Hawks for the second time this season. Atlanta has beaten Indiana in the last 12 regular season meetings at Philips Arena, including a 97-87 victory on Jan. 8.
That game was the second half of a back-to-back for Indiana, and that will be the case again this time, as the Pacers host Orlando on Monday before traveling to the ATL. The Pacers are 3-4 this season when playing the second game of a back-to-back on the road. Indiana should at least enter this contest somewhat better rested. In Monday's 98-79 romp over Orlando, Lance Stephenson played 37 minutes, but no other player saw more than 27 minutes of action. Starters Paul George, David West, and George Hill all sat out the entire fourth quarter.
As of Monday afternoon, the Hawks are tied with Toronto for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta suffered a major blow when two-time All-Star Al Horford, averaging 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game, suffered a complete tear of his right pectoral muscle on Dec. 26, an injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely. Still, the Hawks have held up so far without Horford, going 9-8 since his injury, including home wins over the Pacers, Houston, and Miami.
Two keys for the Pacers on Tuesday night will be avoiding a poor start and minimizing turnovers. In their aforementioned win over Indy last month, Atlanta jumped out to a 12-0 start, held the Pacers to just 32 first-half points, and connected on 10-of-23 3-pointers. The Pacers, who played without Stephenson (bruised right knee) for the only time so far this season, turned the ball over 20 times. Turnovers were again a problem for the Pacers in their narrow win over Brooklyn on Saturday, when they had a season-high 24 giveaways, though they had just nine in their comfortable win over Orlando on Tuesday night.
Atlanta averages 103.1 points per game, second in the East behind only Miami. Power forward Paul Millsap, who signed a two-year deal with the Hawks in the offseason after seven years in Utah, leads the way with 17.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Always a good defender, Millsap ranks ninth in the NBA with 1.82 steals per game. Millsap was selected as an All-Star reserve last week, the first All-Star appearance of his career.
The big evolution in Millsap's game this season has been extending his range outside the 3-point arc. After attempting 113 total attempts from beyond the arc in his first seven seasons, Millsap has already matched that figure in 45 games this season, hitting at a respectable 36-percent clip. Millsap didn't hurt the Pacers in this regard last time around, but center Pero Antic and power forward Mike Scott combined to go 4-for-8 from long range in the Hawks' victory. Antic is expected to miss this game with a stress fracture in his right ankle, but the presence of Millsap and Scott will require the Pacers' big men to defend more on the perimeter.
The Pacers were able to neutralize Millsap in their last meeting, holding him to a season-low four points on 1-of-10 shooting. Millsap had scored in double figures in 26 straight games entering that contest, and has topped the mark in all 10 games since. Despite Indy's success against him the last time out, expect Millsap to remain a focal point of the Pacers' defensive game plan.
Other key players for Atlanta include point guard Jeff Teague, who averages 16.2 points and 7.3 assists, and shooting guard Kyle Korver, who shoots a league-best 47 percent from long range and has made at least one 3-pointer in an NBA-record 115 consecutive contests.
Hawks: Al Horford (out, right pectoral muscle surgery), John Jenkins (out, low back pain), Pero Antic (out, right ankle stress fracture)
"We’ve got to be able to defend them. They play five-out basketball, got five guys on the perimeter. We’ve got to be able to guard our man, guard the 3-point line, keep our guys in front of us. It’s going to be a challenge…We’ve just got to come out there and meet their intensity. I thought we came out there the first time, they got a run out on us, we were fighting uphill the entire game. We’ve got to get off to a better start." -David West
"We're going to have to defend. (It seems like) they're averaging about 140 points a game. The last two or three weeks, every score you look at, it's up in the 120s. They're really scoring the ball, they're playing great. We're going to have to guard and work really hard on the defensive end. They've got a really unique style of play with 3-point shooting (power forwards) and (centers)." -Frank Vogel
- The Hawks hold a 93-77 advantage over the Pacers in the all-time series, and are 59-25 in games played in Atlanta.
- Hawks point guard Jeff Teague graduated from Pike High School in 2007.
- Hawks backup guard Shelvin Mack played three seasons at Butler from 2008-2011, starting for the Bulldogs on both teams that reached the national title game.
- While the Pacers have dropped 12 straight regular season games in Atlanta, they have won at Philips Arena in recent memory. The Pacers defeated the Hawks 81-73 in Game 6 of their first round playoff series on May 3 of last year. Indiana advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with the victory.
January 8: The Hawks jumped out to a 12-0 start and led wire-to-wire in a 97-87 victory over the Pacers. The Hawks held Indiana to 12 points in the first quarter and 32 in the first half, both season-lows for the Pacers. Atlanta forced Indiana into 20 turnovers, leading to 21 points on the other end.
Paul George led the Pacers with 28 points (on 11-of-25 shooting) and 12 rebounds. Danny Granger, making his first start of the season in place of the injured Lance Stephenson, added 14 points. Kyle Korver and Pero Antic combined for 33 points on six 3-pointers to lead Atlanta. Jeff Teague added 15 points and six assists.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)