The Atlanta Hawks will try to sweep the season series from the host Indiana Pacers on Monday and begin to build some momentum to take into the playoffs.
The Hawks have won the first three games against the Pacers. The last was a 131-128 win in Atlanta on March 13 when the Hawks had to turn back a late challenge to prevent them from blowing a big lead.
Atlanta has won six of its last nine. The Hawks erased an 11-point deficit on Friday to beat Golden State 121-110 and have won 16 of 19 at home. Atlanta is trying to replicate the late-season magic from last spring that carried the team to the Eastern Conference final.
“There is still time for us to get that rhythm, get that mojo back and a game like (Golden State), coming out with that focus and playing with that attitude that’s necessary, we certainly can get that going,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said.
The Hawks (37-37) are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind Charlotte and two behind Brooklyn entering Sunday. The Pacers (25-50) have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Atlanta’s Trae Young has feasted against the Pacers. He scored 47 in the first meeting and is averaging 38 against Indiana this season. For the season Young is averaging 28.2 points and 9.5 assists.
Atlanta may find a familiar face on the other side. Former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce has filled in for Indiana coach Rick Carlisle the last two games while Carlisle has been out due to “personal reasons.”
Indiana has lost three straight and five of its last seven. The Pacers were beaten 131-91 by the host Raptors on Saturday, a contest that was interrupted for 70 minutes in the first half while the sellout crowd was evacuated from the arena because of a fire in one of the speakers.
“Fifteen years for me, probably the most bizarre situation that we’ve been in for a game,” Pierce said.
The Pacers continue to play with a depleted roster. They had nine players on the injury report for the Toronto game, including Malcolm Brogdon, who missed his fourth straight game but could play Monday. The Pacers were without Chris Duarte (left big toe), Isaiah Jackson (headache), Duane Washington Jr. (right hip) and Goga Bitadze (right foot soreness).
Oshae Brissett has taken advantage of the opportunity. He made his third start on Saturday and produced 21 points and eight rebounds.
Atlanta has its own injury problems. John Collins has missed eight straight games with a right foot strain, the same injury that kept him out of seven games earlier. There is no timetable for his return.
The Hawks should get Bogdan Bogdanovic back after he was rested with right knee soreness, but could be without Danilo Gallinari, who left the Golden State game with three minutes remaining because of a right elbow contusion.
“It’s the same elbow that I injured some games ago,” Gallinari said. “So it’s not good. We’ll see how it feels.”
Gallinari has stepped in to replace Collins and has averaged 20.7 points over the last three games.