Atlanta coach Nate McMillan will go for the 700th win of his coaching career when the Hawks hit the road to play the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
McMillan is currently fourth in wins among active coaches behind Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Rick Carlisle. He recently passed Red Holzman for 19th on the all-time list.
The Hawks failed to deliver the milestone win for their coach in their last start, a 99-90 loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday. That ended Atlanta’s seven-game winning streak and broke a stretch of 14 consecutive home wins against Eastern Conference opponents, one short of matching the franchise record. Atlanta has not played since.
Indiana couldn’t hold a 12-point second-half lead on Monday in Minneapolis and dropped a 100-98 decision to the Timberwolves. The Pacers have lost three of their past four games.
This will be the first of four meetings between the teams. They won’t play again until Feb. 8 in Atlanta. The Pacers won two of three against the Hawks last season, including the only meeting in Indianapolis.
The Hawks will be shorthanded. Bogdan Bogdanovic will miss two weeks with a right ankle sprain, and Cam Reddish has been limited to some shooting practice because of a left wrist sprain. Both left with injuries in the second quarter against the Knicks.
“It’s easy to make that excuse of winning and losing games when you don’t have certain guys,” Atlanta guard Trae Young said. “But nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We’ve got to find a way to win until those guys get back because they will be back, eventually.”
Young was named the Eastern Conference Player of the week. He averaged 31.3 points, 8.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds and helped the team go 3-1. Young is averaging 26.0 points and 9.0 assists for the season and is shooting a career-best 39.4 percent on 3-pointers.
Teammate Clint Capela has gotten healthy, and it shows. The center is averaging 14.8 points, 14.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks over the past 10 games. John Collins is averaging 16.6 points and 8.0 rebounds.
Indiana may again be without Myles Turner, the league’s leader in blocked shots (2.8), who missed the Minnesota game with a non-COVID-19 illness. He was replaced in the lineup by T.J. McConnell, who scored eight points as the Pacers went with a small lineup.
The absence of Turner, who averages 12.4 points and 7.6 rebounds, had a definite impact on Indiana’s defense against the Timberwolves.
“I think it’s a game we should have won,” Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon said. “We had some breakdowns. We had Myles out, which is our defensive anchor around the basket. Despite all that, we still had a chance to win the game.”
Brogdon leads the team with 20.7 points and averages 5.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He had the second triple-double of his career on Nov. 13 against Philadelphia. Domantas Sabonis averages 17.3 points and 12 rebounds and had his first triple-double of the season after getting 16 points, 25 rebounds and 10 assists against Minnesota. Caris LeVert averages 14.5 points.