Pacers-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 06, 2012
The Indiana Pacers haven't impressed on the offensive end with Danny Granger sidelined, but they're getting plenty of rebounds and second-chance points to go along with their hard-nosed defense. That might cause problems for the Atlanta Hawks if Josh Smith is out again. Playing its fifth game in eight nights, Indiana will try to avoid losing in Atlanta for the 10th straight time Wednesday. The Pacers' leading scorer each of the last five seasons, Granger is sidelined indefinitely with a sore left knee. With its star forward yet to suit up, Indiana has spread the ball around nicely through four games, with seven players averaging between 7.5 and 16.8 points. The Pacers (2-2), though, could surely use Granger back in the lineup as they're scoring 91.0 per game and hitting 40.1 percent from the field - toward the bottom of the NBA in both categories. They shot a season-low 34.2 percent in Monday's 101-79 loss at San Antonio. However, the team is among the league's best in field-goal percentage defense (38.9), total rebounds (53.3 per game), offensive boards (15.3) and second-chance points (15.0). "And they're a good post-up team," Hawks assistant Lester Conner told the team's official website. "They'll post 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. They'll even post up their point guard in George Hill. If they think they have a mismatch with (Atlanta guards) Lou Williams or Jeff Teague, they'll run him to the box. So again, rebound the basketball and defend their post ups." Smith would play a big role in that effort, having led Atlanta (1-1) in rebounds and blocks last season. However, the veteran forward remains day-to-day with a right ankle sprain suffered in Friday's 109-102 season-opening loss to Houston. His potential absence may play a big role Wednesday, considering the Hawks have won 11 of the past 12 meetings when Smith has played as he's averaged 22.4 points. Smith totaled 55 points in the final two matchups last season as Atlanta won both, including a 97-87 victory Feb. 8 in Indiana's only visit to Philips Arena. The Pacers have dropped nine in a row in Atlanta since a 100-90 victory Dec. 22, 2006. The Hawks, though, have shown they can crash the boards without Smith, turning 12 offensive rebounds into 16 points in Sunday's 104-95 road win over Oklahoma City. Al Horford recorded half of those offensive boards and finished with 12 overall along with 23 points - both team highs. "If we give that type of effort against Indiana on Wednesday night, we'll be pretty good," Conner said. Horford's matchup with Roy Hibbert could be key. Indiana's All-Star center has totaled 26 points, 19 rebounds and 11 blocks in two wins this season, compared to nine points, 12 boards and two blocks in two losses. Atlanta also could use another big game from Williams, who leads the team with 20.5 points per game. The former Philadelphia 76er's 27 fourth-quarter points are 19 more than any other Hawk, including 14 on Sunday when Atlanta outscored the Thunder by eight. "I thought the ball swung around a lot tonight, which shows the growth that this team has displayed over the past couple of games. Hopefully, that'll be something we can bottle up and use in the future," Williams said. The Pacers, meanwhile, have seen their assist total drop in each game. Indiana had 11 assists and 19 turnovers Monday in their worst offensive and defensive performance of the season. "We turned the ball over a lot. We didn't get open shots," Hibbert told the league's official website after committing three turnovers and shooting 1 for 7.
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