Myles Turner
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers vs Hawks

Sunday, April 14 at 1:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Game Preview

One game remains, and the Indiana Pacers control their postseason fate.

The Pacers (46-35) will conclude their 2023-2024 campaign on Sunday in a matinee matchup with the Atlanta Hawks (36-45) at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. 

With the Pacers losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers (48-33) on Friday night and the Philadelphia 76ers (46-35) topping the Orlando Magic (46-35), the Pacers currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The top six teams in the East will automatically advance to the playoffs, while the seven through 10 seeds will start their postseason in the Play-In Tournament.

Indiana, currently in a three-way tie with the Magic and Sixers, will finish anywhere from the fifth to eighth seed.

While there are a variety of seeding scenarios considering tiebreakers, the Pacers can ensure a playoff berth by beating the Hawks. If Indiana loses, they could fall into a Play-In spot depending on how the other games shake out.

The final result of Sunday’s game won’t change Atlanta’s postseason fate. The Hawks are locked into the 10 seed in the Play-In and will face the No. 9 Chicago Bulls in an elimination game next week.

"Sunday's what you play your whole season for," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's one game at home with an opportunity."

Indiana, which owns a 3-0 series lead over the Hawks this season, has won three of its last four games while Atlanta has dropped five straight.

On Friday night, the Pacers rallied late but couldn't overcome the duo of Donovan Mitchell (33 points) and Jarrett Allen (29 points) in a 129-120 loss to the Cavs. Nine Pacers scored in double figures in the loss, led by 19 each from Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam. 

Atlanta enters its finale after dropping a 109-106 game to the Minnesota Timberwolves (56-25) on Friday. In the loss, Trae Young — in his second game back after missing 23 straight due to finger surgery — had 19 points and seven assists, and Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 17. 

If Sunday's game emulates previous results this season, the Pacers and Hawks could get into a shootout. For almost the entire season, the teams have both ranked in the top six for pace and scoring.

Each game between the teams has produced big (and sometimes record-breaking) numbers: 157-152, 150-116, and 126-108.

Indiana has relied on a balanced scoring attack in its wins against Atlanta, with at least seven players recording double-digit points in each victory.

For the Hawks, guard Dejounte Murray has given the Blue and Gold trouble, scoring at least 28 points in all three games. Young leads the Hawks in scoring at 26.1 points per game but has scored just 13 points in both of his last two games against Indiana.

The final matchup will look slightly different personnel-wise for Indiana than the previous three games against Atlanta. The Pacers and Hawks haven’t played since Jan. 12, five days before the Pacers traded for Siakam. In 40 games with Indiana, Siakam is averaging 21.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - Tyrese Haliburton, G - Andrew Nembhard, F - Aaron Nesmith, F - Pascal Siakam, C - Myles Turner

Hawks: G - Trae Young, G - Garrison Mathews, F - Bogdan Bogdanovic, F - Vit Krejci, C - Clint Capela

Injury Report

Pacers: Isaiah Jackson - questionable (left hamstring strain), Jalen Smith - questionable (left ankle sprain), Obi Toppin -questionable (left ankle sprain), Bennedict Mathurin - out (right shoulder labral tear)

Hawks: Clint Capela - questionable (rest), Saddiq Bey - out (torn ACL, left knee), Jalen Johnson - out (right ankle sprain), Seth Lundy - out (left medial ankle impingement), Wesley Matthews - out (right hamstring tightness), Onyeka Okongwu - out (left big toe sprain), Dylan Windler - out (ineligible to play)

Last Meeting

Jan. 12, 2024: Indiana shot a franchise record 67.1 percent in a 126-108 win over Atlanta at State Farm Arena. 

After leading 68-62 at halftime, the Pacers broke the game open in the third quarter by outsourcing the Hawks 31-19. The Pacers held on in the final frame after leading by as many as 27 points in the third.

Six players scored in double figures for the Blue & Gold, led by Obi Toppin and Buddy Hield's 18 points each and Bennedict Mathurin's 15 points. While Tyrese Haliburton was sidelined with a calf strain, the Pacers still dished out 41 assists as a team.

Dejounte Murray led the Hawks with 29 points, Saddiq Bey scored 17, and Jalen Johnson scored 16. Trae Young scored 13 points and dished out six assists.

Indiana dominated the rebounding margin 45-28 and outscored the Hawks 76-48 in the paint. The Pacers struggled to take care of the ball, turning it over 27 times.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers are 47 points from reaching 10,000 for the season. Assuming they reach the mark, it will make them the seventh team in NBA history to reach the milestone. The last team to reach 10,000 points was 40 years ago when the Denver Nuggets achieved 10,147 during the 1983-84 season.
  • If the Pacers have 19 assists on Sunday, they will hit 2,500 as a team for the season. Four teams in the league's history have reached that mark, with the Phoenix Suns (1978-79) the last to do it.
  • With a win, the Pacers would sweep the Hawks for the first time since the 2018-2019 season.
  • Win or lose, the Pacers will finish with their best record since the 2019-20 season (45-28).
  • Pascal Siakam is three assists short of reaching 2,000 for his career.

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 (sideline reporter/host)

Tickets

The Pacers close out the regular season by hosting Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks for the annual Fan Appreciation Game presented by Kroger on Sunday, April 14 at 1:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>