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Game Thread #22: Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks

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11-10 15-9
December 11, 2010 - 7:00PM EST
Philips Arena
Radio: 93.1FM WIBC TV: Fox Sports Indiana
Probable starters:
Darren Collison PG Mike Bibby
Mike Dunleavy SG Marvin Williams
Danny Granger SF Josh Smith
Josh McRoberts PF Al Horford
Roy Hibbert C Jason Collins

The Indiana Pacers are back in action tonight on the road to face the Atlanta Hawks. This is the first of three tough ones, followed on Monday at Chicago and then back home on Wednesday for a re-match with the L.A. Lakers.

The Hawks have been the Dirty South version of the Milwaukee Bucks to the Pacers, a team that just has their number of late. The seven straight losses to the Hawks are a little easier to understand, though, with the dynamic lineup Atlanta has been able to throw at the Pacers the past couple of years.

Both teams are playing back-to-back games tonight. The Hawks dropped one last night at San Antonio, so they even had to travel more than the Pacers. The injury situation also favors the Pacers with Joe Johnson out after recent elbow surgery. Also, backup big Zaza Pachulia missed last night's game with the flu.

In the last three games, the Hawks have gone big to start games without Johnson by starting Jason Collins at center and moving Al Horford to PF, Josh Smith to SF and Marvin Williams to SG. As with most lineups of late, this Hawks lineup makes starting Brandon Rusha better matchup. Last night, Mike Dunleavy struggled early against Stephen Jackson so we'll see what Jim O'Brien decides to do tonight.

Regardless, while expecting a road win tonight is a tall order, things set up as well as possible for the Pacers tonight. If the Pacers want to separate themselves from the middle of the Eastern Conference pack they can do something to prove it tonight.

Here's the Pacers.com preview.

For an Atlanta perspective, check out Peachtree Hoops.

Leave your thoughts and observations in the comments.