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Game Thread #1: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks

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Indiana Pacers
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October 28, 2009 - 7:00PM EST
Phillips Arena
Radio: 1070AM WFNI TV: Fox Sports Indiana
Probable starters:
T.J. Ford PG Mike Bibby
Brandon Rush SG Joe Johnson
Dahntay Jones SF Marvin Williams
Troy Murphy PF Josh Smith
Roy Hibbert C Al Horford

The Indiana Pacers tip off the season in Atlanta against the Hawks. Turn on the game, kick back and join us in the comments while we see if the Pacers can churn out some eye-opening plays of their own along with a W in the "Highlight Factory" against the Hawks. For a Hawks' perspective check out Peachtree Hoops.

After the jump, more on the challenging opener facing the Pacers.

I'm holding out hope that Granger will play tonight and his doubtful status was simply a hyperbolic health rating in the spirit of Bill Belichick. Now the Hawks don't know if Granger is playing, maybe they relax a bit knowing their home opener against the Pacers without Granger will turn into a party by halftime. Then Granger shows up ready to go and you catch the Hawks on their heels for a few minutes. Unfortunately, basketball isn't wired that way especially at the start of a long regular season. So let's just hope Granger guts it one out. According to Mike Wells, Granger was taped up and went through the team's shootaround and is now a game-time decision.

Considering this game without Granger, it's hard to imagine the Pacers making up for the offensive hole Granger's absence creates. T.J. Ford will have to have it going tonight while also getting some other teammates going. Brandon Rush, Troy Murphy and Roy Hibbert will need to pitch in on offense or else the Hawks will run and hide.

With Dahntay Jones in the starting lineup the Pacers may have a better defensive group for this Hawks team which is more athletic than big. Jones on Joe Johnson is probably the best chance the Pacers have to slow down the high-scoring guard for the Hawks. But now, according to this report from the mighty one, Dahntay has an upper repiratory infection and is doubtful. Wonderful.

While the talented Hawks offer plenty of problems with their starting lineup, where they really begin causing the Pacers problems is with their depth off the bench which was fortified this summer with the additions of Jamal Crawford, Joe Smith and former Pike Red Devil, Jeff Teague. Crawford may not be an ideal point guard for a winning team, but as a nuke 'em up scoring option off the bench he will be just fine. Then with Joe Smith and Zaza Pachulia, the Hawks have veteran front court help to let the Hawks go big if then need to.

The Pacers depth on the other hand is largely unproven and unknown. Both Solomon Jones and Josh McRoberts will probably play and need to play big off the bench. In the backcourt Earl Watson and Luther Head will need to come through. Yeah, like I said, unproven and unknown. Here's to sweet surprises (and Granger giving it a go)!

More links:

Check out Bruno's Live Blog during the game.

Game #1 Preview: Sekou Smith Talks Hawks
Jared Wade previews the game with former Pacers beat writer and current Hawks beat writer, Sekou Smith.

Indiana Pacers 2009-10 NBA season preview - IndySports
Indy Sports Nation previews the Pacers season.