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Open Game Thread #78: Pacers vs. Hawks

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Back in early February I never imagined the Pacers would be playing a meaningful game in April. As it turns out, tonight the Pacers host the Atlanta Hawks for their third straight critical, do-or-die game in April. After beating the Bucks twice in a row, the Pacers are three games behind the Hawks with five games left. So with a chance to move within two games with four to go and apply some pressure on the Hawks, this should be a playoff caliber game.

Here's Bruno's Scouting Report which focuses on the critical nature of tonight's games. Jim O'Brien lays it out perfectly.

"I think we'll have a very focused game, a game with a lot of energy and I think they understand clearly what's on the line," said Coach Jim O'Brien after Monday's practice. "They understand this is a situation that, if we lose this basketball game, we're done. So I expect our guys to play hard. I expect good things.

"I like playing meaningful game and this is as meaningful a game as we've played all year. To a little bit of an extent it's like the NCAA tournament, it's one and done. You lose this game, it's like the last four games you're in the NIT; you don't want to be in the NIT."
As excited as I am for this game, my confidence level isn't real high. With Bibby in the mix for the Hawks now, the Pacers' defense will be pushed to the limit and perimeter defense has been a struggle for these Pacers. The offense will have to be cooking for the Pacers to have a chance. Let 'er rip!

Here's what the efficiency numbers say:
Team Pace Off.Eff. Def.Eff.
IND 96.0(3rd) 107.9(18th) 109.2(16th)
ATL 89.8(18th) 108.1(15th) 109.7(18th)


Projected Starters
PACERS pos. HAWKS
Mike Dunleavy F Marvin Williams
Jeff Foster F Josh Smith
Troy Murphy C Al Horford
Danny Granger G Joe Johnson
Flip Murray G Mike Bibby

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