The road doesn't get any easier for the Atlanta Hawks who return home to Philips Arena to take on the Eastern Conference leading Indiana Pacers. The Hawks have lost three-straight games in large part due to an offense that is struggling to replace the injured Al Horford.
Atlanta dropped both games of its road trip including Monday's 91-86 defeat by the Brooklyn Nets. The Hawks are now 18-17 on the season and showing signs of frustration. Paul Millsap has seen the brunt of opposing defenses in the paint and the Hawks have had little answer. Kyle Korver is going through a season worst stretch while Jeff Teague has been plagued with turnovers. It all adds up to a sputtering offense where players are indecisive and back on their heels instead of attacking.
The Pacers are certainly not the team to face under those circumstances. Indiana comes into Wednesday's game having won three straight and in first place in the Eastern Conference. Their 86-79 win over Toronto on Tuesday improved their record to 28-6 on the season. They entered Tuesday leading the NBA in defensive rating averaging just 93.1 points per 100 possessions. In short, this Pacers team is on a mission to capture home court advantage in the playoffs and barring injury are going to be a handful for whoever they see in the playoffs.
Tough matchup or not, the Hawks need to find themselves and quickly. They are still searching for answers offensively without Horford but would be well served to try and pick up their pace. This team needs easy looks to help them find a rhythm offensively and those have been few and far between during their losing streak. This Hawks team isn't big enough to play at a grind it out pace against the league's best teams so they must look for answers elsewhere.
Other than the season ending injury to Horford, both teams come into Wednesday's matchup relatively healthy. The Pacers have Danny Granger back after he missed several games due to issues with his knee. Granger came off the bench on Tuesday and finished with 13 points in the win over the Raptors.
The Hawks will be without John Jenkins who remains out indefinitely due to a back injury. Atlanta waived Cartier Martin on Tuesday and now has 14 players on their roster. With Horford and Jenkins both sidelined due to injury the Hawks could elect to recall Jared Cunningham from the D-League to provide some emergency depth in advance of Wednesday's game.
Game date/time: Wednesday, January 8, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 FM "The Game"