Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: Pacers vs Hawks
Scott Agness | Updated: April 5, 2014, 4:50 p.m.
Tipoff tonight is at 6pm and the doors open at 4:30pm.
The end of the NBA’s regular season is less than two weeks away, meaning the playoffs are right around the corner. In their second-to-last home game before the postseason, the Pacers (53-24) host the Atlanta Hawks 933-42), a team with playoff hopes, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday evening.
Just as the Pacers need wins to stay in contention for the East’s No. 1 seed, the Hawks are fighting for the final playoff spot. With a win Friday night over Cleveland and New York losing to Washington, the Hawks are in eight and one game up. Prior to last night, the Knicks had won seven of their last 10 games whereas the Hawks had lost seven of eight.
These two teams have battled three times already, with two meetings being decided by 10 points, including a Pacers loss in Atlanta. There’s a chance that they could meet in the playoffs. Indiana must take the 1-seed back, and Atlanta has to hold off New York for the eighth seed — which is possible because the Hawks face five sub-.500 teams in their final eight games.
The Hawks, under first-year head coach Mike Budenholzer, have dealt with a number of injuries, but none more costly than the loss of center Al Horford. He hasn’t played since the day after Christmas, when he sustained a pectoral injury that required surgery. Horford, who averaged 16.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in their first-round clash last postseason, is a matchup problem for the Pacers. Even without him, first-time All-Star Paul Millsap, who has posted three consecutive double-doubles, remains a tough cover.
The Pacers suffered their second loss of the season in Toronto (and sixth straight on the road) on Friday night. There were some positive signs, like sharing the basketball and keeping turnovers to a minimum, but they got beat by a team missing two starters (Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson). Indiana had a lead with over four minutes to play, but then they weren't effective on either end of the floor as the Raptors scored the game's last 10 points.
Time isn't on their side, however, for the Pacers to correct their mistakes and return to form before making a run in the playoffs. For Indiana, it starts on the defensive end. With such a focus on repairing the offense recently, the defense has become somewhat of an afterthought. Fortunately for the team, they're just percentage points back of Miami (.693 to .688) after the Heat fell at home on Friday to Minnesota.
Pacers: Solomon Hill (questionable, sore back), Andrew Bynum (out, sore right knee), C.J. Watson (out, right hamstring strain)
Hawks: Gustavo Ayon (out, right shoulder surgery), Al Horford (out, right pectoral muscle surgery), John Jenkins (out, lower back surgery)
“They got one of the best perimeter shooting teams in the NBA, and they space their bigs, [which] makes it a challenge for you to protect the rim. Jeff Teague is playing at a really high level right now, not shooting the 3-ball but getting himself in the paint making a lot of things happen. And they’re great at forcing turnovers.” – Frank Vogel on Atlanta
“They got good shooters, they got a smart point guard and they got great bigs. We got to lock in and play Pacers basketball, have fun … and get the W.” – Lance Stephenson
- The Pacers have won the last two meetings and three straight in Indianapolis.
- Atlanta is a great passing team, second in the Association in assists per game (24.7).
- Hawks backup guard Shelvin Mack played three seasons at Butler (2008-2011), starting for the Bulldogs in consecutive national title games.
- Hawks strength and conditioning coach Jeff Watkinson held a similar position at Indiana University from 2006-10.
February 18: In the first game out of the All-Star break, the Pacers handled the Hawks, 108-98. Indiana got off to a blistering start, hitting 13 of their first 14 shots to sprint ahead 31-9. Kyle Korver, who had a team-high 19 points, nailed a 3-pointer to draw the Hawks within three with 61 seconds left in the first half. The Pacers scored the final five points in the half and the bench sealed the victory in the fourth period.
Paul George connected on his first six shots and led the team with 26 points. Lance Stephenson had 13 points and seven assists, while George Hill had nine points (on 4-of-4 shooting). The Pacers assisted on 23 baskets and scored a season-high 35 points off of 22 turnovers.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana/NBA TV – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)
Limited seats remain for this exciting matchup. Find Tickets »