The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers all made big moves at the trade deadline and the Boston Celtics are considered contenders for the Eastern Conference crown, but the Indiana Pacers are looming as a threat to all of them. The Pacers will try to secure their sixth consecutive win when they host the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
Indiana, which sits in third place in the East, lost All-Star guard Victor Oladipo for the rest of the season due to a knee injury last month but found a new formula over the last 10 days and eased to wins in the last five contests, with the last three coming by double digits. "I think every game for us is showing growth," Pacers coach Nate McMillan told reporters after a 105-90 home win over the Cavaliers on Saturday. "Playing against a team like Cleveland who hasn't had success and coming off of two good wins, you kind of anticipate a letdown. Tonight, was a game showing growth where we didn't have that letdown. Every game now is an opportunity for us to show growth." The Hornets are sitting in the No. 7 spot in the East and are coming off a rare road victory after outlasting Atlanta 129-120 on Saturday. Charlotte matched a franchise record for points in any quarter on the road with 46 in the opening frame against the Hawks.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Charlotte), FS Indiana LINE: Pacers -5.5
ABOUT THE HORNETS (27-28): All-Star guard Kemba Walker scored 37 points on Saturday for his fourth consecutive 30-plus performance, matching a career high. "I'm just making the plays necessary," Walker told reporters. "My shot has been falling. My teammates are doing a great job of getting me open. They're finding me as well when they're penetrating. I'm just being aggressive, but for the most part, my teammates are helping me score." Walker knocked down nine 3-pointers on Saturday and is 22-of-47 from beyond the arc in the last four contests.
ABOUT THE PACERS (37-19): Indiana handed out 31 assists on 45 field goals while shooting 53.6 percent from the floor on Saturday. "I've always said when you have ball movement, you're going to get good looks," McMillan told reporters. "We've been getting good ball movement. Guys have been kicking the ball out, they've been looking for each other, and that's how we want to play. I just feel like, if you're looking for each other, and try to make each other better, opportunities are going to come for everybody, and we've been doing that." Point guard Darren Collison is leading the charge and is averaging 15.8 points on 57.1 percent shooting and 6.2 assists over the last five games while totaling four turnovers.
1. Pacers C Myles Turner is averaging 3.6 blocks during the winning streak.
2. Hornets PF Marvin Williams scored a season-high 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting Saturday.
3. Charlotte suffered a 120-95 loss at Indiana on Jan. 20 despite 23 points from Walker.
PREDICTION: Pacers 126, Hornets 115 Bet Now
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