When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Indiana
Now that it’s mid-December the sample size of every NBA team is large enough to get a pretty consistent idea of what teams are what. For the Charlotte Hornets it’s pretty clear that they’re once again a strong defensive team that, when healthy, can compete with just about anybody in the NBA. Their offense is a little inconsistent and that’s concerning, but for the most part this is a solid NBA team.
The Indiana Pacers on the other hand. Well, despite the sample size it’s difficult to really get a good read on this team. They’re not good on defense anymore with the change from Frank Vogel to Nate Mcmillan, and the offense hasn’t really come around the way they were hoping for. Their pace is up, and they’re a much better shooting team than last season, but the offense is middling. They can’t rebound at all ranking near the bottom in most rebounding metrics. What’s left is a mediocre team that can beat up on bad teams and struggle against the better ones.
However, what the Pacers do have is borderline superstar in Paul George. Amidst all of Indiana’s problems is a player that can drop 30 points on any night if he gets it going. He’s shooting an absurd 39 percent from 3-point range and has a career high True Shooting percentage of 57 percent. He’s scoring a lot, and doing so efficiently, which makes him extremely dangerous.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Hornets in the Steve Clifford era it’s that individual scorers have a tendency to have big games against them. Charlotte’s defense prioritizes defending the paint, and their perimeter players are left largely alone with the defense only providing help down low to help protect the rim. They almost never double team on the perimeter. This is why incredible isolation scorers such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have had career highs against Charlotte. The system works, but every once in awhile a great player can exploit it.
The Hornets are a better team than Indiana. They’re more consistent and have a real identity to fall back on, but Paul George alone gives the Pacers a chance every single night of the year.