NBA on ESPN Betting Preview: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks

The Pacers are hoping to get a struggling Paul George back on track.
The Pacers are hoping to get a struggling Paul George back on track.

Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks
Time: 6 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: ATL -5
Total: 206

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks are both middling along, but tonight’s matchup between the clubs could potentially be a matchup they will face in the first round.

The Hawks currently possess the No. 3 record in the East, while the Pacers are No. 7. Indiana has lost six of its past 10 and the Hawks are 5-5 over its past 10 games.

NBA oddsmakers are favoring the hosting Hawks by 5 points in the game which will air at 6 PM Central on ESPN.

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The Pacers are coming off a 114-110 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. Indiana was led by C.J. Miles 27 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Paul George struggled, hitting just 6 of 18 from the field en route to 17 points and six assists. He did have five steals and a block in the game though, and the Pacers held Brooklyn to 43 percent shooting with 16 forced turnovers.

Paul George has struggled since his 31 point game against the Clippers on Jan 26. Over the past four games he has averaged just 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

George has shot just 36 percent from the field and 36 percent from three over the Pacers’ past five games, and these are all marks well below his season average of 23 points and seven rebounds per game. Getting him back on track is of utmost importance to the Pacers to shake its current funk of mediocrity.

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Myles Turner has been impressive since moving into a starting role. The rookie from Texas has averaged 15.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game over his past 10 contests and he has averaged 3.67 blocks over the Pacers past three games, including one erasure of a LeBron James dunk attempt at the rim.

Turner appears, by the eye test, to have legitimate star potential, especially if he can make a concerted effort to hit the glass harder. Turner can step out to hit the jump shot and also can be a force inside, but he needs to aim to do more of the latter. Turner can tend to get over focused on being a court-stretcher, something he drew criticism for even while in the NCAA.

The Hawks are 29-22 and are coming off back-to-back wins over the Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers. Prior to the Philly win, Atlanta had a three-game skid to the Clippers, Pacers and Heat. The win over Philly was a laugher though, with the Hawks winning 124-86 over the hapless 7-42 Sixers.

The Hawks reserves played a lot in the contest, as five bench players reached double figures along with three starters. Tim Hardaway Jr looked good in his 26 minutes, with 13 points, four assist and seven rebounds. The Hawks have pretty impressive depth all things said, and Dennis Schroeder in particular may find himself starting after the trade deadline.

The Hawks have been said to be fielding offers for Al Horford and Jeff Teague. Teague made the All-Star team last season and Horford has been a staple in the event. The pair could greatly enhance a team like the Boston Celtics, who have been rumored to have interest.

The Hawks are notorious for keeping its payroll low, and it seems the system in place should be able to produce winning basketball with any sort of competitive roster. Paul Millsap is an anchoring talent, unheralded though he and that fact are. Millsap is a playmaker on both ends of the court, averaging 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.3 assist and 3.1 blocks/steals per game in 32 minutes a night for the Hawks.

Millsap signed back in Atlanta for less than the max, helping the Hawks drive the bargain chasing talents it usually does. Nevertheless, keeping talent around Millsap with a good distributor like Schroeder at the point is a winning proposition for Atlanta, even if the squad never does reach the level of a true contender.

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