Atlanta Hawks Facing Uphill Battle Against Indiana Pacers Tonight

By Andrew Shaw
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks own the Indiana Pacers on their home court. In the last seven years, Indiana has never managed to win a regular season game at Philips Arena, which includes a loss here earlier in the year as well. However, this doesn’t mean Atlanta will have an easy time tonight. The Pacers currently claim the best record in the NBA and highest winning percentage on the road this season. Beating them will be tough, but it’s definitely possible for the Hawks.

The last time these two teams played, defense was the difference in the game for Atlanta. The Hawks held the Pacers to under 90 points by forcing numerous turnovers and challenging every shot. The Pacers shot under 40 percent from the field. Tonight, they will need to bring the same effort on the defensive end of the court. With players such as DeMarre Carroll on the floor to lead the defense, Atlanta certainly can get the job done, but don’t expect Indiana to shoot under 40 percent and not reach 90 points this time around.

Roy Hibbert, the recently-named All-Star selection, will not be a non-factor like he was in the previous meeting. He only only scored two points on one-of-eight shooting with four rebounds in the loss. His defense was even worse as coach Frank Vogel was forced to bench the center after Pero Antic worked him offensively. Antic scored 16 points and posed a mismatch for Hibbert due to his ability to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting.

Luckily for Hibbert, he won’t have to deal with the Macedonian tonight as he will sit out with an injury, which is a huge blow for the Hawks.

However, even if Hibbert plays well down low, Atlanta still can pull out the win on their home court. It will take a little more offense to get the job done, but that should be no problem for a team that’s scored 120 points or more in their last two contests.

Even though Indiana leads the league in fewest points per game allowed at 90.3, stopping the Hawks offensive scheme will be tough. With Jeff Teague at the helm, the Pacers will have their hands full if they can’t stop Teague’s dribble penetration, which opens up the offense. When he gets going for Atlanta, there is no stopping the juggernaut that coach Mike Budenholzer has created in his first season as the Hawks’ head coach.

The point guard’s play will be vital for the Hawks at Philips Arena tonight. However, in order to beat the best team in the league, everyone has to show up and provide productive minutes. This includes even the bench players, who could possibly be the deciding factor in the game. Both teams have deep benches, but Atlanta’s bench has been on fire lately. Elton Brand and Mike Scott have been on a tear since the injury to Al Horford and if they both fail to show up against the Pacers, the Hawks will need some huge efforts from other players to get the job done.

Andrew Shaw is an Atlanta Hawks writer for Follow Him on Twitter @AShaw003, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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