LIVE: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers

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FRI, NOV 29, 2019
8:00 PM ET
Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

The streaking Indiana Pacers look to add to the Atlanta Hawks’ eight-game losing streak in Friday’s Eastern Conference tilt. Since losing consecutive games to the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets, the Pacers have turned things around with a four-game win streak. They recently dropped 121 points on a Utah Jazz team that ranks among the best defensive teams in the league. Meanwhile, the Hawks haven’t won a game in well over two weeks. They are coming off a 111-102 loss to the Bucks.

Parker is finally finding his game

It’s easy to forget that Hawks forward Jabari Parker is only 24 years old. Time has flown since he was taken with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. The arrow has always been pointing up regarding his untapped potential, but doubt has crept in regarding his ability to serve as a legitimate star. He could be well on his way to proving himself this season by averaging 17.8 points per game, 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

The Pacers’ suffocating defense will be a nice test for him on Friday.

Even with the combination of Parker and star guard Trae Young, the Hawks will have to work hard to overcome a possible playoff contender. Teams are only shooting 43.8 percent from the floor against the Pacers and 35.5 percent from 3-pointer. The long-range shot is one of the few areas that can actually be exploited against the Pacers, but the Hawks aren’t the team to do it while ranking dead last in 3-point shooting.

They’ll have to knock down shots from beyond the arc at some point to compete in this game. It’s hard to envision the Hawks offering much resistance on the defensive end of the court. The team ranks in the bottom of the league in efficiency, and they have played significantly worse on the road than they have at home.

Defense is key for the Pacers

The Pacers have a distinct defensive advantage heading into Friday’s game against the Hawks. It’s no secret that the Hawks are heavily dependent on Young to work his wizardry as a ball general and make things happen on the floor.

Good luck at doing that against a Pacers team allowing a 43.8 field goal shooting percentage to opponents. They are also a top-10 team in blocks with center Myles Turner serving as the ultimate rim protector. Even though Young has shown the ability to take over a game, the Hawks still rank second-worst behind the Bulls in offensive efficiency.

Things haven’t been much better on the defensive end of the court for the Hawks, either.

The combination of Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and TJ Warren doesn’t necessarily give the Pacers the most star-studded cast, but they are all averaging in double figures, while also locking up opposing teams on defense.

The Hawks would be better off wearing orange jumpsuits for Friday’s game against the Pacers. They’re about to get locked up by one of the best defensive teams in the league.

Brogdon’s emergence from a side-kick into a standalone star has been exciting to watch. He’s a talented player with the ability to play on both ends of the floor. He fits the mold of a relatively unknown talent for a tough Pacers team this season.

Young is good popcorn entertainment for any diehard basketball fan, but the Hawks aren’t in a good position to win big games at the moment. They haven’t been able to close the deal over an eight-game stretch, and I’m not going to make the mistake of picking them to do so on the road against Indiana.

The Hawks are simply too top-heady at the moment. Young is rapidly improving as a professional, but he lacks a Batman to his Robin—or a Robin to his Batman. Either situation would be better than the current one he’s in right now. I’m taking the Pacers on Friday.

The Hawks would be better off wearing orange jumpsuits for Friday’s game against the Pacers. They’re about to get locked up by one of the best defensive teams in the league.

Brogdon’s emergence from a side-kick into a standalone star has been exciting to watch. He’s a talented player with the ability to play on both ends of the floor. He fits the mold of a relatively unknown talent for a tough Pacers team this season.

Young is good popcorn entertainment for any diehard basketball fan, but the Hawks aren’t in a good position to win big games at the moment. They haven’t been able to close the deal over an eight-game stretch, and I’m not going to make the mistake of picking them to do so on the road against Indiana.

The Hawks are simply too top-heady at the moment. Young is rapidly improving as a professional, but he lacks a Batman to his Robin—or a Robin to his Batman. Either situation would be better than the current one he’s in right now. I’m taking the Pacers on Friday.

Prediction: Indiana Pacers (-10.5)

The Pacers just dropped 121 points on a Jazz team that ranks ninth in the league in defensive efficiency. People often underestimate what the Pacers are capable of doing on offense, despite countless demonstrations over the last two seasons. They aren’t a team with much explosive potential, but they can consistently chip away at an opposing team’s defense for an average of 110.5 points per game at home. The Hawks haven’t shown any signs of being able to slow down much of anything in Friday’s meeting with the Pacers. I’m taking the over betting total here.

Prediction: Over (225.5)

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