Pacers at Hawks

McConnell on Bringing Energy Off the Bench

December 12, 2019 - At practice on Thursday, Pacers guard T.J. McConnell discusses the energy the bench has brought to each game. Brogdon and McMillan discuss how they adjusted to the Celtics after their loss to the Clippers earlier in the week.

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McConnell on Bringing Energy Off the Bench

December 12, 2019 - At practice on Thursday, Pacers guard T.J. McConnell discusses the energy the bench has brought to each game. Brogdon and McMillan discuss how they adjusted to the Celtics after their loss to the Clippers earlier in the week.
Dec 12, 2019  |  01:47

Game Preview: Pacers at Hawks

Friday, December 13, 2019 at 7:30 PM ET at State Farm Arena
by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor





Matchup

After splitting a pair of games between two of the NBA’s top teams at home, the Pacers (16-9) travel down south for a one-game road trip against one of the league’s bottom dwellers, the Atlanta Hawks (6-19).

But make no mistake about this game. As Indiana's and Atlanta's most recent battle has shown, this game might turn into a close match that may need extra time to decide the victor.

When the Hawks win, they do so convincingly. Though they've won just two out of their last five games, Atlanta won both games by a wide margin. On Dec. 2, the Hawks took home a commanding 104-79 win over the Golden State Warriors. After dropping a game to the Brooklyn Nets, they responded with an impressive 122-107 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Second year point guard from Oklahoma Trae Young is averaging 27.9 points per game, good enough for fourth-best in the NBA. Jabari Parker is averaging 16.0 points per game. It's his highest average since the 2016-17 NBA season, where he averaged 20.0 points in 50 games with the Milwaukee Bucks. Also of note, the Hawks' rookie forward from Virginia, De’Andre Hunter, is averaging 12.5 points per game. Hunter has also hit at least one 3-pointer in 16 straight games.

However, while Atlanta may have enough firepower to battle against the upper echelon of NBA teams, they do struggle on the defensive end. The Hawks are giving up 114.8 points per 100 possessions on defense – the second-worst average in the NBA. Through 25 games, they've failed to keep opponents under 100 points all but twice. Most recently, they gave up 136 points to the Chicago Bulls. Going into that game, the Bulls ranked 26th in offensive rating (104.0 points per 100 possessions).

On paper, the Blue & Gold’s balanced offensive attack should have a field day against the Hawks. But if Young and company begin to heat up, this game may be closer than Pacers fans would enjoy.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Jeremy Lamb, SF - T.J. Warren, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Hawks: PG - Trae Young, SG - Kevin Huerter, SF - De'Andre Hunter, PF - Jabari Parker, C - Damian Jones

Injury Report

Pacers: JaKarr Sampson - questionable (sore lower back), Victor Oladipo - out (right knee surgery rehab)

Hawks: John Collins - out (league suspension)

Last Meeting

November 29, 2019: Indiana managed to withstand a sluggish start and a 49-point performance from Trae Young to take home a narrow 105-104 victory in overtime. Young forced the overtime period after connecting on a contested layup with 11.5 seconds remaining in regulation. He had 18 in the fourth quarter alone.

"You're going to have nights where you're not playing well, but you've got to find a way to win the game. That's the way it was for us all night long," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said after the win. "We just kept grinding and finally got the lead late. They found a way to get this game."

With 1:13 left in overtime, Domantas Sabonis found T.J. Warren in the left corner for the go ahead 3-pointer. A pair of Myles Turner free throws with 10.9 seconds remaining would eventually seal the game.

Jeremy Lamb led Indiana with 20 points, while Sabonis added 17 points and 12 boards. All five starters for Indiana ended up finishing in double figures and scored no fewer than 16 points apiece.

After the victory, Myles Turner gave words of praise about Young to members of the media.

"He's a different type of player, a special kid," he said. "He's talented, you have to tip your cap to him. He's going to be a great player in this league."

Noteworthy

  • Despite winning their last six games against the Hawks, the Pacers still trail in the all-time regular season series, 91-101.
  • Coming into their most recent game against the Bulls, Atlanta was ranked sixth in the NBA in both steals per game and turnovers forced per game.
  • In his record-setting 22nd NBA season, NBA legend Vince Carter stands as the oldest active player in the league. The 43-year old signed a one-year contract in the offseason to return to Atlanta for the 2019-20 NBA season. Atlanta head coach Lloyd Pierce is only eight months older than Carter.

Tickets

The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host Cody Zeller and the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 5:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)

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