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Hawks vs. Pacers Preview: Two teams fighting through adversity for a win

The Pacers play the first of three games in four days over MLK Day Weekend.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers (23-19) are back at the Fieldhouse for the first of two consecutive games when they host the Atlanta Hawks (19-22) on Friday night.

Life comes at you fast in the NBA and suddenly, the Pacers are day-to-day with a bloated injury list while managing the loss of their lead dog in Tyrese Haliburton for a few weeks. Surviving Hali’s absence will be more manageable if Myles Turner, Aaron Nesmith and Oshae Brissett are available to handle various key roles in the playing rotation. That trio is questionable for the Hawks, but hopefully Nesmith will at least be feeling up to the run.

Of course, as the first game of a back-to-back, the Pacers may hold off for a day to be in better shape for Memphis on Saturday. Regardless. adversity has reared its ugly head which should create additional intrigue to see who can step up under duress and deliver the goods. Assuming Myles and Nesmith can go, will the Pacers start Jalen Smith in their familiar “big” lineup or stick small and slide rookie Bennedict Mathurin the open slot.

While the Pacers have injury concerns, the Hawks are dealing franchise turmoil after team president Travis Schlenk stepped down followed by reports of the owner’s son meddling with major decisions. Trae Young remains a major problem for the Pacers, but he missed the team’s last game with a non-COVID illness.

The Pacers started their current six-game home win streak with a 129-114 win over the Hawks just two weeks ago. But much has changed since that dub, so, yeah, your guess is as good as any when it comes to how this game may play out with all of the unsettled variables in play.

DraftKings Odds: Hawks -2 O/U 238 (latest DraftKings odds here)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

TV: Bally Sports Indiana/Bally Sports + app

Radio: 93.5 FM/107.5 FM

Projected Starting Lineups:

Pacers: Andrew Nembhard, Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, Jalen Smith, Myles Turner

Hawks: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Onyeka Okongwu

IND: Oshae Brissett - questionable (sore hamstring), Aaron Nesmith - questionable (non-COVID illness), Myles Turner - questionable (back spasms), Kendall Brown - out (tibia stress reaction), Tyrese Haliburton - out (left elbow sprain/left knee bone contusion), Daniel Theis - out (knee surgery)

ATL: Clint Capela - out (calf strain), Tyrese Martin - out (G League assignment)

Please share your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.