Andrew Nembhard
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers at Hawks

Saturday, March 25 at 5:00 PM ET at State Farm Arena

Pacers at Hawks
Game Preview

The Pacers (33-40) will wrap up their final back-to-back of the season on Saturday night in Atlanta. It will be Indiana's lone regular-season visit to State Farm Arena, though they could be back in a couple weeks if the Blue & Gold are able to make the Play-In Tournament. The Pacers and Hawks split a pair of games earlier this season at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

This particular back-to-back is especially challenging given the circumstances. The Pacers played a 7:00 PM game on Friday night in Boston (where they fell 120-95), then had to travel to Atlanta -- a two-and-a-half hour flight -- only to turn around and face the Hawks (36-37) in a game that tips at 5:00 PM, less than 20 hours after they finished their game against the Celtics.

All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton returned on Friday night in Boston after missing the past six games due to injury. Haliburton played well, tallying a team-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, and nine assists in 29 minutes.

Having a healthy Haliburton will be key for Indiana's chances of advancing to the postseason. The Pacers currently are in 11th in the Eastern Conference standings and need to move up at least one spot over their final eight games to continue playing after the regular season.

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Atlanta, on the other hand, currently sits in eighth place. The Hawks are three games back of seventh and while they would love to move up, holding on to eighth is of major significance given the format of the Play-In Tournament, where the teams that finish seventh and eighth need to win just one of two games to secure a playoff berth while the teams that are ninth and 10th would have to win two straight games to reach the playoffs.

While the Pacers will be playing on short rest, the Hawks have been off since Wednesday.

Led by their All-Star backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, Atlanta boasts one of the NBA's top offenses, putting up 117.6 points per game (the fourth-highest average in the NBA).

Young is 10th in the NBA in scoring at 26.8 points per game and third in assists at 10 per contest. His status for Saturday is up in the air, however, as he is listed as questionable due to a bruised calf.

If Young can't go, the Hawks will rely more heavily on Murray, whom they acquired from San Antonio in a blockbuster trade over the offseason. While there have been some growing pains getting Murray acclimated to playing alongside Young, the sixth-year guard has had a solid first season in Atlanta, averaging 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.5 steals.

Projected Starters

Pacers:  G - Tyrese Haliburton, G - Andrew Nembhard, F - Bennedict Mathurin, F - Aaron Nesmith, C - Myles Turner

Hawks: G - Trae Young, G - Bogdan Bogdanovic, F - De'Andre Hunter, F - John Collins, C - Clint Capela

Injury Report

Pacers: Chris Duarte - questionable (sore left ankle), Tyrese Haliburton - questionable (right ankle sprain injury management), Bennedict Mathurin - questionable (right ankle sprain injury management), Myles Turner - questionable (sore lower back), Kendall Brown - out (right tibia stress fracture)

Hawks: De'Andre Hunter - questionable (left knee contusion), Trae Young - questionable (left calf contusion), Jalen Johnson - out (left hamstring and groin mild strain), Tyrese Martin - out (G League assignment)

Last Meeting

Jan. 13, 2023: John Collins' putback layup with 0.7 seconds left gave Atlanta a 113-111 win at Gainbridge Fieldhouse and snapped the Pacers' six-game win streak on their homecourt.

Indiana had tied the game following two Buddy Hield free throws with 21.5 seconds to play.

On the Hawks' final possession, Trae Young appeared content to hold the ball for the last shot, but when the Pacers sent a double team, he launched a deep three with five seconds still on the clock. The shot was short, but the rebound fell right to Dejounte Murray on the left elbow. He hoisted and missed a jumper, but Collins was there on the left block to tap it back in.

The Pacers battled to the final buzzer despite being without three starters as Tyrese Haliburton (left elbow sprain and mild left knee bone contusion), Myles Turner (back spasms), and forward Aaron Nesmith (non-COVID illness).

Mathurin finished with a team-high 26 points to lead six players in double figures in the loss, going 9-for-18 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free throw line. Hield added 18 points on 5-of-12 3-point shooting and Oshae Brissett tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

Young had 26 points and 11 assists for Atlanta, going 6-for-11 from 3-point range. De'Andre Hunter added 25 points on 6-of-9 3-point shooting, while Onyeka Okongwu had a monster night with 18 points, 20 rebounds, and four blocks.

  • The Pacers have dropped their last three games in Atlanta.
  • With a win Saturday, the Blue & Gold would secure a winning record on the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Pacers are currently 7-6 when they have played the night before.
  • Hawks guard Aaron Holiday was drafted by Indiana with the 23rd pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and spent his first three seasons with the Pacers.
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)


After a four-game road trip, the Pacers will return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, March 27 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>