What: Indiana Pacers (15-25) vs. Charlotte Hornets (15-25)
When: Saturday, January 17 at 7 pm EST
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
How to watch: Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Midwest, NBA GameTime
For more coverage: Indy Cornrows
As unlucky and insane as this sentence may sound, Saturday night's showdown against Indiana could prove to be a big one for both the Hornets and the Pacers when it comes to the playoffs.
Yes, you read that right. Playoffs.
Both teams sit at 15-25 on the season, just a game and a half behind the Brooklyn Nets for eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers won the first game 88-86 thanks to a Solomon Hill tip-in at the buzzer after Gerald Henderson forgot how to box out (Warning: do not click that link unless you want to torture yourself with bad memories). With a win Saturday, the Pacers would hold a 2-0 lead in the season series, meaning Charlotte at best could tie the season series with Indiana and hope the tiebreakers fall their way should it come to that.
The Pacers have dealt with injury issues for the majority of the season. Paul George suffered that awful leg injury seemingly an eternity ago and George Hill — arguably the team's best remaining player — has played in only five games this season due to injuries and has already been declared out for the game against the Hornets.
Despite that, the Pacers are still one of the top rebounding and defensive teams in the NBA. A large part of that is due to the rejuvenated play of Roy Hibbert. After a down year last season, Hibbert is averaging 11.3 points, 7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks (good for seventh in the Association) per game. Hibbert is also one of eight Pacers who regularly see playing time (at least 19 minutes per game) who average double-digit points, so Charlotte will need a good defense effort from all on the floor to try to shut down Indiana's balanced attack.
Oh, and remember that 52-point explosion from Mo Williams earlier this week? That came against the Pacers.
Per the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell, Kemba Walker will not be playing tonight.
Also of note, it is Lance Stephenson bobblehead night! And the team may not have trade him away beforehand after all, which means it'll be a little less awkward!