The Indiana Pacers will aim to sweep their regular-season series with the Atlanta Hawks for the second straight year on Saturday in Atlanta.
The Pacers have won seven straight games against the Hawks and 11 of the past 12 meetings. Indiana won 105-104 in overtime on Nov. 29 and 110-100 on Dec. 13.
With a 124-116 home loss against Denver on Thursday, the Pacers have lost three of their past four games.
The main problems have been the lack of rebounding and the inability to play well down the stretch. The Pacers were overtaken against the Nuggets when they were outrebounded 15-7 and outscored 10-3 on second-chance points in the fourth quarter.
“I feel like at times we got stops, but we just couldn’t finish the possession with a rebound,” Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis said. “When you’re down late in the game, that just kills your energy. I think that really hurt us.”
Sabonis averages 17.5 points a game, one of three players on the team who average 17-plus. He had 18 points and nine rebounds against Denver, just missing his 20th double-double. T.J. Warren leads the team at 17.9 points and scored 20 against the Nuggets, his 16th time with at least 20 points.
The Hawks could not build on the momentum gained from ending its 10-game losing streak.
Atlanta dropped a contentious 109-106 decision at Boston on Friday. Atlanta was able to celebrate the return of leading scorer Trae Young. The point guard was back in the lineup after missing two games because of a right ankle sprain and posted 28 points and 10 assists, his 10th double-double of the season.
The Hawks are awaiting further diagnosis on forward John Collins, who left Friday’s game with a lower-back contusion in the first half and did not return. Collins had 16 points and eight rebounds when he left the game.
The Hawks got some good medical news. Veteran Jabari Parker returned after missing three games with right-shoulder impingement, but he played just 15 minutes and scored four points.
Kevin Huerter has been troubled by mid-back pain but played and added 17 points and seven rebounds.
The Hawks have not won back-to-back games since starting the season with two wins. But they erased an 18-point deficit to beat the Magic and had a chance to take the lead against Boston with 2.7 seconds left when Young missed a 3-pointer.
“We don’t get respect,” Len said. “But you’ve got to earn it and a couple of wins like (the one against Orlando on Monday) will do that.”
The Pacers may again be without starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon, an Atlanta native, who continues to be troubled by a sore left hamstring. Brogdon averages 17.7 points and 7.4 assists, but has missed three of the last four games, including Thursday’s contest against Denver.
Brogdon was out for three games, then returned to play eight minutes against Philadelphia on Dec. 31. He showed obvious discomfort, missed all five shots taken and did not play in the second half.
Indiana is also without Naz Mitrou-Long (sprained right ankle), Edmond Sumner (sore right knee) and Victor Oladipo, who continues to rehab his right knee.
–Field Level Media