When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Indiana
*preseason games are not always televised*
The Pacers have had a strong preseason themselves, winning four of their last six. Paul George has played well in six games, averaging 19.8 points a game, shooting 44.2 percent from the field, and 39.5 percent from three (and that's been done while only averaging 24 minutes a game). Depending on where he plays, George will be a tough test for the Hornets, and a good opportunity to see how the team will defend him without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist available. In a perfect world, where season ending injuries don't happen in the first quarter of the first preseason game, MKG would be assigned to guard a star player like George. With him out, the Hornets will have to devise new ways to guard star players. It'll be worth watching just how Steve Clifford decides to have the team defend him. Will multiple players take their turn? Will there be more double teams? This aspect of the game is worth keeping an eye on.
Aside from George, only one other player (Glenn Robinson) is averaging double figures in scoring. Monta Ellis, who signed this summer, is averaging just 9.2 points a game in preseason, and attempting only seven shots a game, which is surprising given how much Ellis loves to shoot the ball. Nonetheless, he will be another tricky match-up.
The Hornets have shown a lot of promise so far. They are moving the ball a lot, and their focus on 3-point shooting has paid off so far. In preseason, they rank 11th in 3-pointers attempted, and third (yes, THIRD) in 3-point field goal percentage. Last season, they made an average of 6.1 3-pointers a game. This preseason, they have averaged 9.6 made 3-pointers, which is a roughly 9-12 more points a game depending on if you round up or not. That's huge.
Being that this is the final preseason game, who Clifford chooses for the starting five could be indicative of who starts on opening night. Kemba Walker missed last night's game, and it's unknown at this point if he'll be playing tonight. However, assuming he does play, it will be interesting to see who starts at the two and four spots, and if tonight's lineup (and rotation) is more in line with the regular season rotation. Of course, Clifford could decide to rest the key players in favor of giving the fringe players one more chance to leave a good impression. I wouldn't be against it with the team playing the second game of a back-to-back. We'll know more come closer to tip off.
Win or lose, this preseason has been an overall success for the Hornets. The team appears to have an identity, along with an understanding of each other's styles of play and tendencies that is surprising given how little they have played together. Only so much can be read into preseason, but the flow of the offense is promising, and should translate over into the regular season. The most important thing though, is whether the wins do.