Scouting Report: Indiana Pacers
The timing of the All-Star break couldn’t have been better for the Hawks, who lost their last five games of the first half and needed the long weekend to rest, regroup and get healthy.
Unfortunately, the timing and luck aren’t always shining at the same time. Atlanta opens the second half of the season against the NBA’s best team, the Indiana Pacers, on Tuesday night.
Indiana had three representatives at All-Star Weekend. Paul George started at small forward for the East, Roy Hibbert came off the bench and Frank Vogel coached the winning team. All three have played significant roles in helping the Pacers get to 40-12 this season.
George is a threat from anywhere on the floor. He can shoot, drive and finish at the rim, which makes him extremely dangerous. Perhaps no player has improved over the past two years as well as he has, and his ability to now create his own shot, get to the rim and get to the free throw line makes him one of the league’s toughest covers. DeMarre Carroll did a nice job on him in the last game between these teams, holding him to 18 points on 6-16 shooting. Carroll did miss the last game with an injury but is hopefully to be back Tuesday to guard George.
Hibbert is a weapon on both ends of the floor. While he’s better known for his rim protection and shot-blocking ability, his offense has improved dramatically over the past two years. He has developed a variety of post moves, including several with the left hand, which makes him harder to scout. If Gustavo Ayon starts on him like he did last game, he’ll be tasked with pushing Hibbert away from the basket and making his shots difficult.
Vogel’s team plays tough, physical defense. They’re allowing a league-low 90 points per game, and they’re doing it by being physical, rebounding and making shots difficult. Atlanta will have to counter-punch by keeping the ball moving, spacing the floor and finding open guys. The Hawks had quarters of 28 and 30 points in the game on Feb. 4 but scored just 12 and 15 in the other quarters. They’ll need more consistency on the offensive end to beat Indiana and snap this losing streak.
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