How to Watch Pacers' Game With Hornets on Friday; Gametime, TV, Point Spread

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets will complete a back-to-back series with one another during a Friday night matchup. The first matchup occurred on Wednesday with the Pacers winning 116-106.

Both teams had their own signature quarter in the opening half. The Pacers began with a 36-point frame at the start of this game. Meanwhile, the Hornets answered back with a 36-point quarter immediately afterward. Indiana led 59-55 at halftime.

Neither team created an edge in the third quarter but the Pacers did end up pulling away in the final frame. Indiana built up a double-figure lead with only 4:34 remaining in the game and the Hornets never quite managed to get back into the mix. 

Here are the particulars on Friday night's game:

  • Who: Indiana Pacers (11-7) vs. Charlotte Hornets (7-11)
  • When: 7 p.m. ET, Friday, Jan. 29.
  • Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Latest Line: The Indiana Pacers are a 3.5-point favorite over the Charlotte Hornets, according to the website as of 11:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
  • Standings: Indiana is in second place in the Eastern Conference's Central Division, 0.5 game back from the Milwaukee Bucks. Charlotte is in third place in the Eastern Conference's Southeast Division, 2.0 games out of first behind the Atlanta Hawks.
  • Series history: Indiana leads the all-time series, 70-45.
  • Last meeting: The Pacers defeated the Hornets on Wednesday after using a late-game run to pull away. Indiana used a triple-double from Domantas Sabonis and a season-high 28 points from Doug McDermott off the bench in order to win 116-106.
  • Projected Hornets starters: Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, Bismack Biyombo.
  • Projected Pacers starters: Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Holiday, Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner.
  • TV: FOX Sports Indiana.
  • Announcers: Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
  • Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)

Here are three things to watch in this game: 

3. Changes in Hornets' Defensive Strategy 

There were clear faults in the way the Hornets attempted to slow down the Pacers' offense. Indiana was able to pick them apart using savvy ball movement and off-ball movement -- resulting in a season-high 34 assists. 

Perhaps the greatest display of the Pacers' offensive execution on Wednesday was Doug McDermott's 28 points. The Hornets constantly top-locked and lock-and-trailed against McDermott -- opening easy cutting and lane penetration opportunities.

The Hornets must use a less aggressive defensive strategy or face the risk of being taken advantage of in key areas once again. 

2. Lineup Choices

The Pacers had a dominant first quarter on Wednesday against the Hornets. It appeared as though Indiana was going to take full control of this game, but their bench group was outscored by 12 points to begin the second quarter. Will Indiana switch their lineup choices up?

There is potential for an adjustment with the Pacers' lineup choices. Staggering the playing time of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner to raise the floor of the bench unit's impact at all times would help.

Directly, the casualty of such a change would be Goga Bitadze. He does need playing time to be able to develop, but the Pacers do have two well-paid bigs who already are established and need as many opportunities throughout games as possible. 

1. Impact of Domantas Sabonis

The Hornets lack much of an interior presence and Domantas Sabonis took advantage of this en route to 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on Wednedsay. As a result, he commanded substantial attention from the Hornets' defense -- unlocking the Pacers' ball movement.

Charlotte lacks the capability to handle Sabonis in 1-on-1 situations but they also clearly can't afford to keep sending extra attention to the ball without being forced to pay. It seems as though the Hornets will need to get creative and switch it up throughout the game.

The benefit of having a talent like Sabonis on the floor is that he isn't capable of beating the defense with just scoring impact. He will make the opposition pay for leaving themselves vulnerable using ball pressure.