Published: November 21, 2012
The Hornets kick off a four-game road trip by going against the toughest defense in the league on the back end of a back to back. Oh, and no Anthony Davis.
What a difference a week makes. After a couple horrible shellackings by top-tier teams everything seems a little more half-empty than half-full at this point. Still, despite the Pacers having the best defense in the league, (allowing 98 points per 100 possessions) this game is winnable even without the Hornets star rookie, who is out with a hurt ankle.
The Pacers may be entering this game with a furious defense that contests shots better than any other, but their offense has been awful, as they are sporting the third worst offensive efficiency and averaging only 96.5 points per 100 possessions. What’s more, the Hornets have been being cut apart by teams sinking shots from the perimeter – and while Indiana takes a lot of shots from that range, they only hit 30.1% of those shots, good for fourth lowest in the league.
The Pacers will also struggle to take advantage of another major Hornets weakness: They are the worst team in the league at forcing turnovers. Their defense is predicated on tough contests, forcing mid-range jumpers, limiting fouling, and cleaning the boards. They simply do not, however, get steals. That’s a relief for this Hornets squad which gives out more turnovers than a bakery.
On the flip side, the Pacers best offensive ability is their offensive rebound rate, and like I said earlier, teams only produce an eFG% of 43.3% against them. That’s brutal. The Hornets have been terribly vulnerable on the boards and struggle to make shots at the best of times. It could get ugly. Expect a slugfest.
Matchup to Watch: David West vs Ryan Anderson
This one fascinates me. Two legitimate stretch fours going head to head. Which will prevail – the stretchier four in Anderson, or the more skilled ball-handler in David West? Old vs. New. It’ll be fun to watch.
Player to Watch: Roy Hibbert
Fresh off a massive new contract signing, Hibbert is the key to the Pacers. In wins, he averages 13.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 3.8 blocks and 1.6 turnovesr. In losses he averages 6.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.6 blocks and 2.6 turnovers. If Hibbert is going off, the Hornets are in trouble.
Prediction: 82-75 Pacers.