Hawks Host Hot Pacers in Tuesday’s Hardwood Headliner

Due to a busy Monday and the usual packed Wednesday, tonight’s NBA slate doesn’t present a great deal to be excited about, but if you’re into sportsbook prop bets for the NBA as many people are, four games does present at least a little something to work with.

Tonight’s headliner is worth watching if you’re in need of a sports fix after the Super Bowl, and it should prove to be a lot more competitive than the massacre at Met Life was, as Indiana visits Atlanta in a showdown of #1 and #3 in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers come in with the league’s best record at 37-10, but one of those ten losses was in the ATL, a 97-87 loss last month.

That defeat is one of the few bad marks on what has been an outstanding season so far for the Pacers. One of the rewards for their stellar form is that it means that coach Frank Vogel will be leading the Eastern Conference All-Star team at the All-Star Game in New Orleans in a week and a half. He’ll be making the trip with two of his players, Paul George and Roy Hibbert, but many feel that’s one too few.

It took a little while for the light to come on in the show for Lance Stephenson after being an elite prep star, but unlike many before him and after him, it has, and he’s enjoying a breakout season in his fourth NBA campaign. His averages of 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game and his league-leading four triple-doubles may not get as many headlines as Kevin Durant’s scoring exploits, but they epitomize the Pacers’ quiet dominance this season.

Most who follow sports know that the All-Star selection and voting process has major flaws, especially when you consider an injured player can be voted as a starter even though he’s only played six games this season. And with only a dozen spots on offer on each team, a lot of worthy players are going to get snubbed. That’s not much for solace for Stephenson, but if he continues to perform like he has–and he has responded to his snub by averaging 14.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game in his last three games–there will be multiple All-Star selections in his future. And as he’s a free agent at the end of this season, he’s in line for a big, big payday. So let’s not feel too bad for him, hey?

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