The Atlanta Hawks look to extend their two-game winning streak but will have to play an Indiana Pacers team that has had their way with Atlanta this season.
After completing a season sweep of the rival Indiana Pacers in the 2014-15 NBA season, the Atlanta Hawks have dropped both of their meeting with the Pacers in 2015-16 NBA season. Albeit, both of the two previous meetings this meeting has been on Indiana’s turf in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, but the Hawks have been more perplexed by nobody more this season than the Indiana Pacers.
This matchup between two Eastern Conference rivals will take place at Philips Arena Friday night. Tipoff is a 7:00 PM ET. Not only can viewers in the Atlanta area catch the game on Fox Sports Southeast, it will air on national television as ESPN will have the game as well.
Atlanta is carrying a two-game winning streak, being able to put up over 110 points in their games against the Dallas Mavericks at home and in Philadelphia against the lowly 76ers. However, Atlanta is 0-2 against the Pacers in 2015-16, losing on December 28th, 93-87, and a month later on January 28th, 111-92, when the reserves of the Atlanta Hawks simply ran out of gas.
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Entering play Friday night, the Atlanta Hawks boast a 29-22 record, tied with the Boston Celtics for third place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta is 5-5 in its last 10 games, 16-8 at Philips Arena this season, and hold a 0.5 game lead over the 28-22 Miami Heat for the Southeast Division lead.
The Indiana Pacers boast a 26-23 record, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Indiana is 4-6 in its last 10 games, 11-15 away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and 9.5 games back of the first place Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division.
The Atlanta Hawks have quietly put together a top five defensive team in the NBA this year, even with a good, but not great regular season record. Atlanta is fifth in the Association in team defensive rating at 102.5 points allowed per 100 possessions and seventh in the NBA in 99.6 points allowed per game.
This is impressive given that the Hawks aren’t exactly going to work on the offensive end of the floor. Atlanta is 12th in points per game at 102.2 and 14th in team offensive rating at 105.1 points scored per 100 possessions.
As is usual for a Frank Vogel coached team in Indiana, the Pacers are defensive stalwarts again in 2015-16. The Pacers are eighth in the league in opponent’s points per game at 100.1 and third in team defensive rating at 101.8.
Both Atlanta and Indiana are in the top 10 in the Association in pace and are middle of the pack to mediocre on offense. Expect Atlanta to bring the defensive tenacity regardless of it backup center Tiago Splitter plays, as he has missed the last two games with a nagging hip injury. Playing great defense will give the Atlanta Hawks hopefully an edge in this nationally televised game at home Friday night against a likely playoff-bound team in the Indiana Pacers. Let’s Go Hawks!