Opponents: Charlotte Hornets (3-3)
Venue: Spectrum Centre
Tip-off: 7pm ET, 12am GMT
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The Indiana Pacers (3-3) will be looking to make it four wins on the bounce as they travel to North Carolina to take on the Charlotte Hornets (3-3) at Spectrum Centre.
The Blue & Gold have very quickly eradicated fears of an early season slump after starting at 0-3, but have now got up the precious .500 mark needed stake a claim for a play-off spot in the Eastern Conference.
Impressive wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls last week has coincided with better performances from the bench and fringe players. Goga Bitadze and T.J. Leaf had standout games in particular. Bitadze began to show why Indiana chose him in the draft in the summer after producing an excellent 10 points, none rebounds and four blocks against the Cavs on Friday night, whilst Leaf secured a much-needed double-double against the Bulls on Sunday.
Injuries have plagued the Pacers in these opening two weeks of the season with Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Edmond Sumner joining Victor Oladipo on the sidelines. Whilst this leaves the Pacers much lighter than usual, they still have enough to sting the Hornets in their own back yard.
One such weapon is ex-Hornet Jeremy Lamb, who faces Charlotte for the first time since swapping North Carolina for Indiana. Lamb has impressed since returning from a hip injury picked up on the opening week of the season. He was quiet against the Bulls, so expect him to respond against his former team.
Charlotte may have an identical record to the Pacers on paper, but the performances haven’t exactly been phenomenal. In the games they have won, the Hornets have edged out teams in a similar bracket to theirs. When they have been beaten, they’ve been beaten hard.
After losing their star point guard Kemba Walker in the off-season, Charlotte have struggled offensively. Only twice so far have they totalled over 101 points in a game, however they are shooting very well from behind the arch with the fifth-best 3-point shooting percentage (38.5%). This will no doubt be their strongest asset at Spectrum Centre, with Marvin Williams shooting just under 50% from 3-point range.
Indiana’s defence have been impeccable since the second half of their match in Detroit a week ago. They will be confident that they can hold the Hornets to a two-digit score for the third match in a row between the two teams to secure that fourth straight win.