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Open Game Thread #29: Pacers at Hawks

We are conditioned to look at the schedule, see Atlanta, and exhale in relief. A win should be there for the taking. Only a poor performance will lead to a loss. I'm sure most other teams go through the same feelings when that see the Indiana Pacers.

Well, it might be time to recalibrate the Eastern Conference schedule strengths. Both the Pacers and Hawks have put together a surprisingly strong start to the 2007-08 season. Of course, we thought this might happen after the preseason wrapped up and the Hawks posted the best record. The Pacers were a strong 6-3 and looked completely different. For teams coming off losing seasons, this has been a good indicator of a turn around season.

Well, it might not have started out so promising, but both the Pacers and Hawks are poised to make some noise in the East, which means tonight's game is a big game for playoff positioning.

Did I just type that the Hawks-Pacers game has playoff implications? Sorry, I still need to recalibrate my Eastern Conference mind set.

Check out Bruno's Scouting Report with a nice look at the Hawks. Former Pacer, Anthony Johnson, has finally found a place to run the show and his results speak for themselves. A.J. was always a solid back-up poing guard for the Pacers and often played great in a lead role when the opportunity arose. He will be a challenge for Jamaal Tinsley since he knows his game, plus has the size to handle him down in the post.

Here's what the efficiency numbers say:

Team Pace Off.Eff. Def.Eff.
IND 97.2(2nd) 107.2(16th) 106.6(13th)
ATL 88.4(28th) 105.8(18th) 105.8(11th)

Projected Starters
Jermaine O'Neal F Josh Smith
Danny Granger F Marvin Williams
Troy Murphy C Al Horford
Mike Dunleavy G Joe Johnson
Jamaal Tinsley G Anthony Johnson

Feel free to leave your thoughts on the game in the comments.