Don’t look now, but the Indiana Pacers might just be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers knocked off their second straight heavyweight and will be in search of a fourth straight win overall when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Indiana secured wins over Miami and Chicago in the past four days, helping vault them to third in the conference standings, just 3 1/2 games behind the Heat.
The Hawks might just be the right team to challenge the Pacers, having beaten Indiana twice already this season to extend their dominance in the series. Atlanta has won four in a row against the Pacers, including 11 straight at home. Indiana will be hoping that playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse turns the tide in the matchup, while attempting to maneuver through the middle game of the NBA’s only back-to-back-to-back set this season.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sports South (Atlanta), Fox Sports Indiana
ABOUT THE HAWKS (26-20): Both teams played the Bulls in their last respective games, with the Hawks having the more challenging time. Atlanta suffered a 93-76 setback, leaving coach Larry Drew to question his team’s physicality. "We did not respond in tonight's game," Drew told reporters afterwards. "From a physical standpoint, they absolutely manhandled us." Josh Smith has been doing his part for the Hawks, averaging 21.2 points and 10.6 rebounds over his past five contests.
ABOUT THE PACERS (29-19): The Pacers pushed their home winning streak to 14 games on Monday with a 111-101 win over the Bulls, in the process moving into a share of the Central Division lead with Chicago. It matches the team’s longest streak since 2002-03. David West led the way with 29 points, a follow-up to his season-high, 30-point performance against the Heat. Indiana, which averages just 92 points per game, has suddenly found its scoring touch, topping 100 points for the fourth time in five games.
1. Hawks point guard Devin Harris did not play in their last game because of a sore foot. His status for Tuesday is uncertain.
2. Indiana is the NBA’s top rebounding team at 45.5 per game.
3. Pacers All-Star F Paul George has been an Ironman of late, averaging 40-plus minutes over his past eight games.