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Pacers look to keep rolling Wednesday in Atlanta
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 1/8/2014  at  6:36:00 AM
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at ATLANTA HAWKS (18-17)

Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -4.5, Total: 186.5

The Pacers look for their fourth straight victory when they head to Atlanta Wednesday to take on the struggling Hawks, losers of three in a row.

Indiana hosted a surging Raptors team Tuesday night and came away with an 86-79 win, marking its eighth victory in the past nine contests (6-3 ATS). The Hawks most recently played against the Nets on the road on Monday night, where they lost 91-86 while failing to cover in their second straight game. Since star C Al Horford was lost for the season, Atlanta is just 2-4 (SU and ATS). These teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season when the Pacers prevailed 4-2 (SU and ATS). But before Indiana won Game 6 of that series, the team had lost 13 straight trips to Atlanta, going 2-11 ATS. This season, the Pacers are 11-5 (SU and ATS) on the road, but the Hawks are 12-5 SU (11-6 ATS) on their home court. Both teams have positive betting trends on Wednesday. As a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points over the past two seasons, Indiana is 37-18 ATS (67%). Atlanta, however, is 9-0 ATS in home games after two or more consecutive losses in this same timeframe. Other than Horford, neither team has any significant injuries to report.

Can the Pacers pick up a rare win in Atlanta on Wednesday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 62% ATS (79-49-1) including 65% ATS (53-28-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Zach has a huge 72% ATS mark (18-7-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 58% ATS (29-21-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 70% ATS (19-8) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 57% ATS (29-22) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Scott is 69% ATS (11-5) in Best Bets since Dec. 16, while StatFox Gary is also 69% ATS (11-5) in this same timeframe. Since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian is 61% ATS (11-7).

The Pacers have now won three straight games, but their offense has really sputtered in the past five games, scoring only 88.0 PPG on 42.7% FG and failing to reach 100 points in any of these contests. But the Pacers continue to play superb defense, leading the NBA in scoring defense (88.3 PPG), shooting defense (41.0% FG) and three-point defense (32.1%). C Roy Hibbert (12.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.7 BPG) played extremely well against the Raptors on Tuesday, finishing with 22 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. He will have a major mismatch going against a Hawks team without injured Al Horford, and had a strong playoff series against them last year with 14.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 1.8 BPG. SG Lance Stephenson (13.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 5.2 APG) had 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against the Raptors on Tuesday, and he too should be able to play well against either Lou Williams or Kyle Korver. SF Paul George (22.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.9 SPG) must get back on track for the Pacers, however. Over the past four games, George is averaging just 15.8 PPG on 35% FG, while really struggling with his jump shot (4-of-20 threes). George averaged 18.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 5.0 APG in the first round series against the Hawks last season. PF David West (12.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG) and PG George Hill (11.0 PPG, 3.3 APG) also stepped up their games against Atlanta last postseason. West averaged 16.3 PPG and 5.8 RPG, while Hill contributed 15.2 PPG and 4.3 APG. This Hawks team, however, is nothing like what they were last season.

Atlanta has been a solid offensive team this season with 102.1 PPG (13th in NBA) on 45.9% FG (8th in league), but is really having trouble with C Al Horford (18.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG) out for the season with a torn pectoral. In six games since Horford went down, the team is averaging a mere 97.0 PPG on 40.5% shooting. PG Jeff Teague (16.9 PPG, 8.0 APG) is now relied on even more for this Hawks team, and he has played well over the course of the season, helping Atlanta lead the NBA in assists (25.3 APG). He’ll be faced with a favorable matchup going up against George Hill who Teague was able to produce 13.3 PPG and 5.0 APG against in last year's playoffs. C Pero Antic (4.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG) has been the starter for the Hawks with Horford out, and he has averaged 11.0 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 22.7 MPG over the past three contests. PF Paul Millsap (17.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG) has been utilized much more often on offense, and he is now having to cover bigger bodies while being the only trustworthy player on the glass for this Atlanta team. Over the past four games, Millsap is averaging 19.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG while also playing well defensively with 1.5 BPG and 1.5 SPG in these four contests. Atlanta will have a ton of trouble defending the massive Pacers frontcourt without Horford, and if it doesn’t get some scoring from either SGs Kyle Korver (12.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG) or Lou Williams (10.0 PPG, 3.0 APG), this game could get out of hand. Korver is in a major shooting slump in his past three games (6-for-21 FG, 4-for-15 threes), while Williams has been horrid in his past four contests with 4.5 PPG on 6-of-29 shooting (21%) and 3-of-15 threes.

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