INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers will host the Atlanta Hawks in an Eastern Conference showdown on Wednesday night.
The Hawks are off to a strong start at 9-5, while the Pacers come in at 7-8. Both teams are coming off blowout losses — the Pacers losing 120-83 to Golden State on Sunday, the Hawks falling at home to the New Orleans Pelicans, 112-94.
“We just didn't have it,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I just didn't feel like we could get up and play them. Our legs were gone and we just couldn't keep up with them.”
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The good news for the Pacers is that they are 6-0 at home when Paul George plays. The bad news: They're 0-3 at home when he sits, and he's listed as questionable for this game while he works back from a sore ankle.
Indiana is also battling other injuries. C.J. Miles is doubtful with a sore left knee, and starting center Myles Turner is questionable with an ankle injury.
“We have to keep scrapping, keep hustling,” Thaddeus Young told the Indianapolis Star. “There's going to be times in the season where guys are going to go down. We all have to be ready.”
Jeff Teague will be playing against his former team for the first time. He spent the first seven seasons of his career in an Atlanta Hawks uniform. Teague is averaging 15.7 points and 6.4 assists in his first season as a Pacer.
New Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder is averaging 14.5 points and 5.7 assists.
After a 9-2 start to the season, the Hawks have lost three straight. Their latest loss was at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans, who were playing without Anthony Davis.
“They played well,” forward Kent Bazemore said after the loss. “They made some shots and passed the ball well. They played well as a unit, probably the best effort we've faced all year. I give them credit.”
During the three-game losing streak, the Hawks have failed to score 100 points, after reaching that mark in five of their previous six.
Dwight Howard has averaged 18.4 points and 12 rebounds against Indiana in his career. The matchup down low with Myles Turner and/or Al Jefferson will be an important one.
If Paul George plays, the Hawks will look to keep him in check, as they did a year ago. Last season, George averaged just 14.5 points per game against Atlanta, while shooting 31 percent. That was his lowest scoring average against any Eastern Conference team.
This game figures to highlight defense. Coming into Tuesday, both teams were in the top four in steals and top eight in blocked shots in the NBA.
These teams split the four-game season series last year, each winning both home games.