Game Preview: Indiana Pacers vs. Charlotte Hornets

Following a 21-point comeback win against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, the Indiana Pacers (27-23) are back in action with a home game against the Charlotte Hornets (20-28) on Monday. The game will mark the first in a four-game series with the Hornets this season. Their last meeting would go extremely well for the Pacers on March 15th, 2017 when Indiana rolled to a 98-77 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Tipoff – 7:00 PM Eastern

Location – Bankers Life Fieldhouse

TV & Radio Listings – Fox Sports Indiana, 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan

Projected Starting Lineups:

Pacers – Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, and Domantas Sabonis.

Hornets – Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams, and Dwight Howard.

Injury Report:

Pacers – TJ Leaf – questionable (sprained right ankle), Glenn Robinson III – out (left ankle surgery rehabilitation)

Hornets – Cody Zeller – out (left knee surgery), Michael Carter-Williams – questionable (left shoulder strain)

Three Keys to Victory:

  • Minimize the production of Charlotte’s star Kemba Walker. The main scorer and ball-handler, Walker, averages a team-high 22.1 points and 5.8 assists per game. Walker can create shots for mini-stars like Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. He is by far the most efficient player on Charlotte, with a 20.3 Player Efficiency Rating. Slowing Walker down is always a challenge because he is an All-Star snub that plays great basketball. If the Pacers can’t minimize him, it’s not the end of the world, but if they do they have a greater chance of winning.
  • Utilize a strong start to their advantage and do not trail early. There’s no question that Charlotte is a subpar team, but they can light up an opponent’s defense on any given night. The Hornets average 105.6 points per game as a team which is just slightly less than Indiana’s 106.6 points per contest. Utilizing an inside and mid-range game most frequently, Charlotte only shoots 35.4 percent from outside but a strong 47.7 percent inside the arc. They have recently put up multiple 130-point games and can feat of a defense that lacks the right tools. Indiana’s always lacks without Myles Turner in the starting lineup which will happen again due to limitations. The Hornets can start out hot and score 30 points each quarter, meaning Indiana will need the upper hand in terms of offense and defense.
  • Lay everything on the line and play a great brand of basketball. Charlotte is a team on the rise after a poor start and have won 9 of their last 16 games. They’ve beaten names like Golden State, Detroit, and Washington during this recent stretch. All three are obviously legitimate playoff contenders and Indiana should not take Charlotte lightly. Sure, that would be a slightly above .500 club, but that seems to be the scenario for playoff teams in the East. They are only five games out of the playoff picture after shaking off a 12-22 start. If the Pacers do their thing and play like the Eastern Conference Finals contender they are, a win should not be too hard to come by.

Prediction: Pacers 107, Hornets 98

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