PreGame Chatter: Pacers vs. Hornets

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets will begin the first part of a back-to-back series with each other on Wednesday. 

The last few weeks have not been kind to the Hornets after an otherwise strong start to their 2020-21 campaign. Charlotte will look to snap a six-game losing streak when they take on the Pacers in this game. Their last win occurred against the New York Knicks on Jan. 11.

The Pacers have lost three of their previous five games but are coming off a convincing 129-114 victory over the Raptors. Indiana has been short-handed as of late due to various injuries to key players but they will have to continue to get by without them since those are long-term issues. 

Here's what Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren had to say to reporters before the game:

Domantas Sabonis' Availability

It was later determined that Domantas Sabonis would play in this game, but initially, Bjorkgren expressed how he will have to test his knee out during his scheduled pre-game on-court session before a determination was to be made. 

"Good news on the MRI, the X-Ray, all that stuff. I saw him as we walked on here. He'll be on the court shortly and I'll get the final word. He was in our little weight room area and his court time is coming up. 

"It just goes to show the toughness of the guys we have on this team. I've talked about Myles before and Domas, and all of them. There's a lot of toughness and they want to be on the floor extremely bad."

Recent Play of Jeremy Lamb

Ever since returning from injury, Jeremy Lamb has provided a pivotal impact for the Pacers off the bench. Bjorkgren had high praise for the way Lamb has played for the team and the different ways he impacts the team positively when he's on the court. 

"His demeanor and just his versatility. Asking him to guard positions 1-4, there's where I think he's been great. He presents another handler for us. Meaning he can turn those corners off DHOs and ball screens and can get into the paint. He can score, drop it off, kick it out, he's versatile in that way. 

"What's great about Jeremy Lamb doing that, he's got size with it too. He can seal the defense. He's making the right decisions and I want to keep attacking the rim."   

Strategy to Stop Gordon Hayward 

It has been a very strong start to the 2020-21 season for Gordon Hayward and he will be the top priority for the Pacers when taking on the Hornets. In order to slow him down, Indiana will look to deploy different defensive strategies throughout the game. 

"Got to mix it up with him. Like a number of these teams we play and great players that we play, we have to give them different looks and we have to take away his easy ones. Our initial defense, our readiness in our defense has to be great to start the possession. 

"We have to finish the possession as well. We don't want to give them any free looks, whether it's a kick-out, offensive rebound, free pass to the rim. Again, it's a number of different looks we have to present to him." 

Talking With Caris LeVert

It was announced on Tuesday that Caris LeVert underwent cancer surgery on his left kidney and will be out indefinitely. Bjorkgren made it clear that LeVert's surgery went well and he's fully focused on keeping up with the team while he's away from the game. 

"He's a stud. the surgery went well. I've texted him nearly daily, roughly three or four times per day. His concern, he gets out of surgery and he's asking how Domas is doing when Domas and Lowry bumped knees. The questions that he's asking back was about the team -- how's the team doing and how's he doing? 

"He's all-in as a Pacer and just for him to now get his rest and recovery. I'll give you more information as we move along."

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