This is a far different Pacers team than the one the Hawks met in the Eastern Conference playoffs in May.
Indiana is without star Paul George (broken right leg) for the season. It comes into Atlanta without starters David West (sprained right ankle) and George Hill (bruised left knee). Reserve C.J. Watson (bruised right foot) is also out. With Lance Stephenson now playing in Charlotte, fourth-fifths of the starters from last year’s playoff series are gone. Only Roy Hibbert remains from the team that bested the Hawks in seven games.
“They are very good defensively,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said Saturday morning. “That’s always going to be there identity. Obviously, it takes individual talent on the defensive end to be good but it doesn’t matter who is out there for Indiana. They are going to be good defensively, be committed defensively, so they are going to test us. Can we find a way to be efficient offensively and effective offensively?
“There are some subtle things offensively that are a little bit different. … I wouldn’t say it is a huge change.”
Jeff Teague said he expects the Pacers to play with more ball movement considering their lineup changes.
“They still play similar but they use more pick-and-rolls instead of posting up,” Teague said.
* The Hawks will go with the usual starting lineup. As I posted earlier, John Jenkins and Adreian Payne (foot) are inactive.