Game Preview: Pacers vs Hawks
Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
After dropping a road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Pacers (9-14) are returning to Gainbridge Fieldhouse for six consecutive games. The first matchup is on Wednesday nights as the Blue & Gold take on a hungry Atlanta Hawks (11-10) squad.
The Hawks' season has progressed much like the Pacers' prior opponent. After stumbling out of the gate to a 4-9 record, Atlanta had won seven in a row before dropping a contest to the New York Knicks last Saturday. Coming into this matchup, the foes will have had a rare three-day break in between games. Meanwhile, this will be Indiana's third contest in four nights.
The Blue & Gold will have to fight through the fatigue if they wish to slow down Trae Young. The fourth-year guard is putting together yet another elite season and currently ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring as of Monday (26.0 points per game). The dynamic scorer hurts teams in multiple ways. He is shooting 39.2 percent from 3-point range and takes an average of 5.7 free-throw attempts per game — the 14th most in the NBA.
Aiding Young are five other players that average in double figures, with big men John Collins (16.6 points per game) and Clint Capela (12.1) leading the way in that group. Capela also impacts teams on the defensive end, as he has turned into quite the capable shot-blocker.
However, as a whole, the team appears to struggle on the defensive end. Surprisingly, despite having a defensive-minded head coach in Nate McMillan, the Hawks rank 23rd in the league in defensive rating. Atlanta surrenders a staggering average of 109.5 points per 100 possessions.
If Indiana can contain Young and prevent a shootout from occurring, a balanced attack by the Pacers' offense could pull off a much-needed victory to start this season-long homestand.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - T.J. McConnell, SF - Caris LeVert, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Hawks: PG - Trae Young, SG - Lou Williams, SF - Kevin Huerter, PF - John Collins, C - Clint Capela
Pacers: Myles Turner - questionable (non-COVID illness), Justin Holiday - out (health and safety protocols), T.J. Warren – out (left foot stress fracture)
Hawks: Cam Reddish - questionable (left wrist sprain), Bogdan Bogdanovic - out (sprained right ankle), De'Andre Hunter - out (right wrist tendon surgery), Jalen Johnson - out (G League assignment), Onyeka Okongwu - out (right shoulder injury recovery)
May 6, 2021: Coming off a discouraging loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Pacers redeemed themselves by toppling the Hawks, 133-126, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Blue & Gold played solidly all night, building up a double-digit lead throughout the game. They managed to hold off a late Hawks rally down the stretch to take home the victory.
Six Pacers finished in double figures in the win; two reached the 30-point mark. Caris LeVert tallied a game-high 31 on 12-of-20 shooting. He also dished out 12 assists to record a double-double. Domantas Sabonis followed closely behind with 30, finishing a scorching 12-of-14 from the floor and a perfect 3-of-3 from deep. T.J. McConnell added 19, five assists, and four steals off the bench. As a team, the squad shot 62.1 percent from the floor for the contest.
Indiana took a 14-point lead into the final frame. However, John Collins scored seven of a 12-2 Hawks run that closed the gap to four in the early stages of the fourth. After a timeout, Collins added a three-point play to trim the deficit to 112-111 with 8:33 left. After a back-and-forth spree, LeVert caught fire, keeping the Hawks on an uphill battle. Two jumpers with two minutes remaining from the guard pushed Indiana’s lead to six. When Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a triple, LeVert responded once more with a baseline jumper. After Atlanta missed a 3-pointer, the Pacers waltzed easily to the win.
- Indiana has won seven straight home games against Atlanta dating back to the 2016-17 season.
- Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce was the Hawks' head coach for 2.5 years until former Pacers head coach Nate McMillan took over the reins midway through the 2020-21 season.
- With a win, Rick Carlisle would move into the second spot for head coaching victories in Pacers NBA franchise history.
The Pacers open a six-game homestand against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & 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)