The Eastern Conference's top seed is all but locked up, as the Miami Heat have run away from the rest of the conference in the last two months. After that, it's complete chaos. Monday night's match up between the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers is a perfect example as the Pacers look to regain sole possession of the second seed while the Hawks continue to push for the fourth seed and home court advantage in the first round.
The Pacers return home after a dreadful end to Saturday's game against the Chicago Bulls. Indiana scored just 17 points on 4/16 shooting in the fourth quarter of their loss to the Bulls. The loss put them in to a tie with the New York Knicks for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers had won three straight before the Bulls loss, averaging 103 points a game in those wins while holding their opponents to 79 points a game.
Hawks looking for some consistency
At 39-31, the Hawks find themselves right in the middle of the pack in the East. Atlanta is currently in fifth place, two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for fourth place and just a half game ahead of the Bulls. They're also coming off a stretch where they alternated wins and losses over the last four games. Before that, they had won three in a row, and lost three in a row before that.
Match up of the game
While Josh Smith, an unrestricted free agent this summer, has gotten the bulk of the buzz around the Hawks this season, Al Horford has been the team's best player and most consistent player once again. Horford is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds on the season, while upping those numbers to 19 points and 11 rebounds during the month of March. His match up against Roy Hibbert could determine the game. In their three previous games, Horford's offense hasn't shown any signs of struggle against Hibbert, averaging 17 points on 66 percent shooting. Hibbert, on the other hand, has had problems with Atlanta, averaging just seven points and five rebounds in the teams' previous games.
Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports Midwest, SportSouth
Odds: Indiana opened as 7.5 point favorites.