It’s a battle of Eastern Conference foes looking to start things off on a positive note down in the Hoosier State. The Atlanta Hawks are on the road as they take on the Indiana Pacers Friday night. Atlanta lost their second straight as they were defeated 104-98 on the road by the Pistons last Wednesday. Indiana won their third straight as they beat the Nets 108-103 on the road last Wednesday. The Hawks have a 100-84 advantage in the all-time regular-season series but the Pacers have taken three straight, including a 105-95 road win in the first matchup this season on December 20, 2017.
Atlanta Hawks Looking to Collect Ping Pong Balls
Atlanta has lost two straight and four of five heading into the All-Star break as they continue to struggle. The Hawks entered this one in the basement of the Eastern Conference, 12.5 games behind Miami for the final playoff spot in the East and a whopping 24 games behind the Raptors for the top spot. Atlanta was never really in the game as they trailed by eight after the first quarter and went down 21 after three before trying to make a late charge that fell short. The Hawks shot 42.7 percent from the field but went only six of 33 from three point range. Andrew White III had 15 off the bench to lead Atlanta in the loss.
The Hawks are tied for 20th in the league in scoring offense with 103.7 points per game this season. Atlanta is 26th in the league in rebounding (40.9 rpg) and 6th with 23.9 assists per contest. The Hawks are 23rd in the NBA in scoring defense as they allow 107.8 points per game. Dennis Schroder leads the team with 19.5 points plus 6.3 assists per contest. Taurean Prince kicks in 12.2 points plus 4.7 rebounds a game and John Collins adds 10.2 points with seven rebounds per contest. Dewayne Dedmon (10.1 points, 7.5 boards), Ersan Ilyasova (10.9 points, 5.5 rebounds), Malcolm Delaney, Kent Bazemore (13 points, four boards, 1.6 steals) and Mike Muscala have to contribute on the offensive end. The Hawks are tied for 22nd in the league by shooting 45 percent from the floor as a team. Atlanta is tied for 9th in the league with 11 made three pointers a night and tied for 10th in three point shooting as the team hits 36.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Indiana Pacers Seek Fourth Straight Triumph
Indiana has won three straight as they come into this contest and they’ll look to maintain that momentum. The Pacers come into the game fifth in the Eastern Conference, 8.5 games behind the Raptors for the top spot and half a game behind the Wizards for fourth place. Indiana was tied at the half and trailed by six after three quarters before rallying to outscore the Nets 35-24 in the fourth quarter to earn the win. The Pacers shot 43.3 percent from the field, including six of 15 from three point range and won the rebounding battle 52-44. Victor Oladipo led Indiana with 25 points in the win.
The Pacers are 12th in the league in scoring with 106.8 points a night. Indiana is 22nd in the league in rebounding by collecting 41.9 boards per game. The Pacers are 19th in assists with 22.4 per game but have been inconsistent defensively this season. Indiana is 13th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 105.5 points per game. Victor Oladipo leads the Pacers with 24.4 points plus 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per contest: he missed four games with a sore knee. Myles Turner averages 13.5 points plus 6.6 rebounds and 2.07 blocks per game but missed seven games earlier this season with a concussion. He missed nine games with a sprained elbow before returning off the bench against the Magic January 27. Darren Collison (12.8 points, 5.3 assists), Thaddeus Young (12.1 points, six rebounds), Domantas Sabonis (12.1 points, 8.2 rebounds) and Bojan Bogdanovic (13.7 points) are contributing offensively. Collison is out a couple of weeks after it was announced February 5 that he would undergo arthroscopic knee surgery. The Pacers have to get production from Cory Joseph, Lance Stephenson and TJ Leaf while tightening up defensively. Indiana is tied for 3rd in the league by shooting 48 percent from the field. The Pacers are tied for 23rd with 9.2 threes per game. Indiana stands 6th in the league as they’re knocking down 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.
- Hawks are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 Friday games
- Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
- Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference
The Hawks have struggled all season long and things don’t project to improve much in the second half. Bazemore and Schroder both missed the game against Detroit and are questionable for this contest as well. Indiana has won three in a row as they have exceeded expectations this season. The Pacers have plenty to play for as they are still chasing a potential home court advantage in the opening round of the postseason. Indiana should take care of business here and keep on rolling.