When: 5:00 pm EST
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, IN
How to watch: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
The Hornets are currently riding a three-game winning streak and extending it to four will be tough as Charlotte faces one of the league’s hottest teams in the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have won 10 of their last 13 games and two of those losses were at the hands of teams with Finals aspirations in the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers. Indy is rolling and will be looking for payback against a Hornets team that beat them 122-120 in overtime back in early November.
Facing the Pacers
The Pacers feature an equal opportunity offense in which starters Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and T.J. Warren each average somewhere between 18 and 19 points per game. Former Hornet Jeremy Lamb is always good for a consistent but unspectacular 15 points while center Myles Turner’s offensive game has gone in the toilet this year by averaging about 11 points on a career-low 42 percent shooting.
Indiana also features a slew of snipers coming off the bench. Doug McDermott hits over 47 percent of his three-point attempts while the jolly Holiday brothers - Aaron and Justin - both hit around 39 percent from downtown. The Pacers offensive rating of 108 is 17th in the league so they technically have a below average offense.
Defensively for the Pacers, Domantas Sabonis controls the boards and is among the league leaders at over 13 rebounds per game. Center Myles Turner is always among the NBA’s best shot blockers and is averaging 2.2 blocks per game. Indy’s team defensive rating of 104 ranks seventh in the NBA, making them one of the best in the league at getting stops.
How the Hornets can win
Charlotte is 1-0 against Indiana this year so they know the template to winning this game, but that’s also a bit misleading. In the Hornets overtime victory earlier this season the Pacers were without their two starting big men - Sabonis and Turner - and Indy was forced to instead rely on JaKarr Sampson and Goga Bitadze. Tonight the Hornets will be facing an Indy roster that is both healthy and hot.
In the Hornets November 5th victory over the Pacers, Devonte’ Graham dropped 35 and Terry Rozier went for 22 and the duo scored nearly half the team’s points. Charlotte will need a repeat performance from their electric backcourt tonight. Graham has been on fire as of late, but Rozier has struggled with his shot over the his four games by going 18-of-57, or just 31.5 percent. Rozier will need to break out of his recent shooting slump.
The Hornets will also need an X-factor, somebody who unexpectedly steps up and helps win the game. In the first Hornets-Pacers meeting it was Bismack Biyombo who posted 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting with six rebounds and two blocks in just 17 minutes. In the Hornets victory on Friday against the Bulls, Biyombo and Cody Zeller combined for 23 points and 19 rebounds so maybe one of the Hornets big men will step up tonight against the Pacers.
What do you think, Hornets fans? Can Devonte’ and Terry go for a combined 50 points against a stout Indy defense? Who will be the X-factor tonight? And ultimately, do you think the Hornets can pull off an upset win on the road against one of the NBA’s hottest teams? Let us know in the comments below.