Monday afternoon's return to Philips Arena wasn't the beautiful exhibition of basketball that we have come to expect from the 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks, but in the end, it was yet another victory. That win over Detroit moved Atlanta's winning streak to 13 consecutive games, and in the process, it set the stage for potential history on Wednesday night, as the Hawks host the Indiana Pacers.
The franchise record for consecutive wins sits at 14 straight, as the 1993-1994 Hawks put together that mark prior to trading Dominique Wilkins. Atlanta enters Wednesday as a heavy favorite to match that streak, as the Pacers come in with a 15-28 record in the absence of their franchise cornerstone in Paul George. Indiana is tied for the league's longest losing streak with five consecutive notches in the "L" column, and offense has been the issue for the Pacers.
As you may remember from last season's playoffs, offense has always been the central problem for this particular opponent, but in 2014-2015, Indiana has cratered. The Pacers are second-worst in the NBA (ahead of only Philadelphia) in offense, scoring only 97.9 points per 100 possessions, and with the Hawks playing the best defense in the league since December 1, that is a rough recipe for the visitors.
Still, Indiana has the ability to keep things close based on a defense that remains in the top-10, and it will be crucial for the Hawks to execute more effectively on offense than they did on Monday. Roy Hibbert is X-factor for the Pacers, but with Al Horford back and Pero Antic presumably available, it would be a surprise if Mike Budenholzer did not gameplan to keep the big fella away from the rim, giving Pacers fans considerable flashbacks to the 2014 playoffs.
Wednesday marks the season finale for these two teams, and the Hawks have claimed the first two match-ups. While the guard of some fans was up prior to Monday given the afternoon tip-off on national television, this game produces no such fear from the faithful, but with Oklahoma City on the horizon in a prime match-up on Friday evening, Wednesday's tilt could serve as a "trap" for the red-hot Hawks. Still, the Atlanta Hawks don't appear to be a team that would enter this battle unfocused, and anything short of a dismal effort should result in yet another home win.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, January 21, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM