Atlanta Hawks vs Indiana Pacers Preview: A Song of Ice and Fire

G. HealyCorrespondent IIJanuary 11, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 26: Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls gets hit in the face by Dahntay Jones #1 of the Indiana Pacers as he battles for the ball with (L-R) Jones, Danny Granger #33 and Josh McRoberts #32 in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 26, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 116-89. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Atlanta (7-3) comes into Indiana this evening as a hot shooting team. To the contrary, Indiana (6-3) has not been hot, and I know that is an extreme understatement. 

Atlanta is shooting 45 percent as a team, and 40 percent from behind the three-point line. 

Indiana is shooting 40 percent in both field goals overall and from behind the three-point line.

In order for Indiana to not duplicate their performance from two nights ago in Philly, they are not only going to have to shoot better, but they are going to have to make the Hawks miss more shots.

This isn't going to be an easy task. While Atlanta hasn't been dominant by any means, they have stepped up multiple times this season, especially in victories against the Bulls and the Heat

Indiana has had their opportunities to step up against the likes of Miami and Philadelphia, but lost both contests. To their credit, they were able to handle the Celtics in Boston, but the jury is still out on what type of team the Celtics will end up being. 

We all know and understand that Miami is most likely the one seed going into the playoffs, and Indiana was torched by the Heat in their one opportunity to play them this year. 

Atlanta played Miami twice this season, posting a 100-92 victory on Jan. 2nd and losing a tight overtime contest to them on Jan. 4th.

Without consistent shooting, Indiana has been defined by their defense. As their defense goes, so goes the Pacers.  

Danny Granger—out for Monday's contest in Philadelphia with food poisoning—is listed as day-to-day, but it isn't a stretch to think he will play tonight given he practiced this week when the team returned to Indiana. 

George Hill is also as listed as day-to-day with a back injury. With his injury more nagging than Granger's, he will most likely be a game-time decision. 

This is the first of three matches these two teams will play against one another in this lockout shortened season. 

Last year, Atlanta proved to be a tough night for the Pacers as the Hawks took three of four from them.

Atlanta is led in scoring by Joe Johnson (16.9 PPG) while Indiana is led by Granger (14.9 PPG) though, a solid performance by Roy Hibbert (14.3 PPG) tonight might change that.

Hibbert has posted scoring efforts of 19 points against the 76ers and 20 points against the Bobcats raising his per-game average to a career high. 

Tip-off for tonight's game is 7:00 PM EST.