Three Hits: Hawks stun Pacers to take Game 1
APR 19, 2014 10:27p ET
If anyone wanted to dismiss the Hawks' 107-88 win at Indiana on April 6, they should not now. The Hawks delivered a dominating performance in winning Game 1 101-93 on Saturday and continued to send Indiana, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, into a state of disarray.
1. Upset in the making?
Pacers fans not only left the game in droves well before the final buzzer but before they did, many of them booed what they saw on the court. The final score was not much of an indication of how close the game actually was (it was not close).
By the end of the game, Pacers coach Frank Vogel was coaching like someone wanting to make a point in an early season game by punishing his players. With the Pacers trailing by 20 late in the fourth quarter, Vogel sent his starters back onto the court in what practically amounted to a public shaming.
The Hawks already guaranteed themselves of the split they needed in the first two games in Indiana. If they can take a 2-0 lead on Tuesday, the statistical probability of their winning the season will shoot through the roof.
Against the best defensive team in the league in terms of opponents' field goal percentage (42.0 percent) and second-best in points allowed per game (92.3), the Hawks shot 43 percent and scored 101. And the playoffs are supposed to be when it's harder to score. (The Hawks also made 11 3-pointers and went 24-for-29 from the free throw line.)
Offensively in the second half, Indiana was horrible. With 2:01 left, they had scored 35 points in the half.
For one of the few times in the past few months, the Hawks are not only healthy but they're confident. It was hard to find a Hawk who had a bad game. Maybe Lou Williams, who committed a clear-path foul after he made a bad pass and went 1-for-3 in 18 minutes.
Other than that, the top eight players in their rotation were excellent. As a result, it looks like Indiana could be in big trouble.
2. Indianapolis backcourt prevails.
No, not the Pacers'. The Hawks received a major contribution from a native of Indianapolis and a nice, supplemental performance from another guard who played his college ball in the city.
Jeff Teague had a career playoff-high (and game-high) of 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. He went 9-of-10 from the line and had five assists. He was too quick for the Indiana guards, blowing past them for easy layups or earning trips to the foul line.
He scored 14 points in the third quarter as the Hawks broke the game open. (Paul Millsap also had an important contribution, with 13 of his 25 points in the quarter.)
Meanwhile, Shelvin Mack, who played collegiately at Butler, was very efficient. He scored eight points in 14 minutes on 3-of-7 shooting and, significantly, went 2-for-5 on 3-pointers. He also had three assists.
3. Hawks' win George match-up.
The Hawks needed to win the match-up against Pacers small forward Paul George, who killed them last year in their playoff series, which Indiana won in six games. George scored 24 points on Saturday but he shot 6-for-18 and had three of his shots blocked. The Hawks will take that any day. Aside from Lance Stephenson, Indiana hardly got much in the way of complimentary offensive performances.
DeMarre Carroll , the player mainly in charge of defending George, finished plus-15 and had 10 rebounds. George finished minus-1. Carroll might not be able to pull that off every game but the fact that he did it on Saturday should prove encouraging to the Hawks.
In terms of one other key matchup, Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who is at the eye of the storm of the Pacers' recent meltdown, finished minus-11 but was minus-23 at one point. Hibbert finished with eight points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. Essentially, the Hawks' Pero Antic (eight points, seven rebounds, 28 minutes) played him to a standstill.
For now, it all looks positive for the Hawks.