The Hornets are facing a wounded animal tonight. A very good case can be made that no team in the NBA is more injured than the Pacers right now, with the loss of Paul George, their chances at winning a title went right out the window. Then, as things seem to go, injuries started to spread across the team. George Hill, CJ Miles, and David West have all missed time this year. It's no wonder the former title contender is now predicted by man to miss the playoffs entirely.
Despite all of this, the Pacers have one of the best coaches in the NBA in Frank Vogel, and he is coaching his ass off this season. If the Hornets overlook this game they will lose. The Pacers might be hurt, but they're still dangerous. Even with the loss of Lance Stephenson in the offseason, and all the injuries, the Pacers haven't lost their identity. This is a defensive team, and that can be seen with their defensive rating of 100.6, good enough for ninth in the NBA.
The Hornets won't have to play a perfect game tonight, due to having more talent. But they still have to play well. The offense can't be the disorganized mess it's been all season. Some consistency quarter to quarter will be necessary. There biggest challenge will be getting around defensive monster, Roy Hibbert. With the Hornets offense being so reliant on Al Jefferson, they're gonna have to find some ways to get him easy buckets, or find other ways of scoring. Hibbert is gonna cause problems at the rim all night.
If the Hornets play a solid game, they should manage to pull out an ugly win. I'm sure Hornets fans would prefer a clean and great looking win, but with the way Charlotte has played so far this season, we can't expect that out of them. Until Charlotte proves they can play like a great team, there expectations will suffer. They have a chance to to gain back some of those early season expectations with a good win tonight.