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

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets will begin the start of a back-to-back series against each other on Wednesday in Charlotte. 

It has been a tough recent run for the Hornets after an otherwise intriguing start to the season. Charlotte is entering Wednesday's game riding a six-game losing streak with their most recent win coming against the New York Knicks on Jan. 11. 

The Pacers have also slowed down as of late. Indiana may be coming off a convincing win against the Raptors on Monday, but they still have lost three of their previous five games. However, those losses came against contenders like the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks. 

Indiana faces an opportunity to collect a couple of wins against a struggling Hornets team before having to face tougher competition later in their upcoming schedule. It will be crucial in maintaining a strong record in the immediate future. 

Here's everything you need to know about Wednesday night's game between the Indiana Pacers and the Charlotte Hornets:

Here are the particulars on Wednesday night's game:

  • Who: Indiana Pacers (10-7) vs. Charlotte Hornets (7-10)
  • When: 7 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 25.
  • Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Latest Line: The Indiana Pacers are a 2.5-point favorite over the Charlotte Hornets, according to the website as of 1:30 p.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, 69-45.
  • Last meeting: The Pacers were shorthanded when they last faced off against the Hornets with Victor Oladipo, Edmond Sumner, and Jeremy Lamb all sidelined. Despite that fact, Indiana came out on top in convincing fashion with 119-80 being the final score on Feb. 25, 2020. 
  • 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 matchup: 

3. Pacers' Pick & Roll Success

The Hornets aren't an elite defense by any stretch but they still are giving up the eighth fewest points per possession in the NBA. There is a specific strength for Charlotte's unit that sets the tone for their impact in this general area-- slowing down pick-and-roll ball handlers.

In fact, there hasn't been a team more effective at defending pick-and-roll ball-handlers than the Hornets so far this season. For reference, teams are producing just 0.69 points per possession (PPP) in these sequences against Charlotte with the next most effective team being the Boston Celtics (0.793 PPP). 

The Pacers rely heavily on Malcolm Brogdon in pick-and-roll situations and he is coming off a career-best scoring outing with 36 points. Brogdon has accounted for 51.2% of Indiana's pick-and-roll ball-handling possessions while Victor Oladipo is responsible still for 19.8% despite being traded midseason. 

Something to also take into consideration, the Hornets are giving up the sixth-fewest points per possession against roll man sequences. There isn't an easy way for the opposition to attack Charlotte in such situations, so if the Pacers can transcend that, it would be very significant in the matchup. 

2. Frontcourt Matchups

When stacking up the Pacers with the Hornets from a matchups standpoint, the advantage Indiana holds in the frontcourt is staggering. The Hornets' best hope to slow down Domantas Sabonis will be to have Bismack Biyombo on him. This will leave PJ Washington to have to slow down Myles Turner. 

The Pacers involved Turner more like a traditional center during Monday's win against the Raptors. He didn't end up taking a single attempt from beyond the arc as he was needed to be a key cog inside the arc to break the various zone strategies deployed by Toronto. 

It will be intriguing to see how much perimeter involvement Turner will receive to help stretch the floor. There are weaker on-ball defenders that can be exploited out in space by the Pacers' ball handlers like Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb with the extra room to operate. 

It still needs to be seen if the Pacers will have Sabonis in the lineup for this game. It's likely he will be active, but if not, Indiana will feature a smaller unit with Turner manning the middle. The advantage in that instance would be to pull Biyombo out of the paint with Turner's shooting ability. 

1. Slowing Down Gordon Hayward

During the NBA offseason, Gordon Hayward was one of the top free agents on the market. The main two teams that were thought of as being Hayward's top options were either staying with the Boston Celtics or departing to join the Pacers. Instead, he signed with the Hornets. 

The decision by Hayward to join the Hornets has paid off in a major way from an individual standpoint. While he isn't on a team that's winning nearly as much as the Celtics or Pacers, but he's still averaging 24.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, nevertheless. 

The top priority for the Pacers will be to contain Hayward from having a major performance. He is producing a highly impressive 1.129 points per possession (PPP) and that trails only Joel Embiid (1.191 PPP), Kevin Durant (1.139 PPP), and Khris Middleton (1.37 PPP) among all 34 players with at least 300 offensive possessions. 

Myles Turner's rim protection will be a key in posing problems for Hayward when he attempts to get downhill given the Hornets' lack of a stretch-five in their rotation. Indiana's on-ball defense will need to pressure Hayward's shot creation out in space.