Indiana wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Indiana wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, April 19th
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22nd
Game 3: Thursday, April 24th
Game 4: Saturday, April 26th
Game 5: Monday, April 28th
Game 6: Thursday, May 1st
Game 7: Saturday, May 3rd

Hawks 101

(38-44, 14-27 away)

Pacers 93

(56-26, 35-6 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    7:00 PM ET, April 19, 2014

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

    1 2 3 4 T
    ATL 28 22 30 21101
    IND 22 28 16 2793

    Top Performers

    Atl: J. Teague 28 Pts, 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    Ind: P. George 24 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 Blk

    Hawks-Pacers Preview

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Pacers believe things have changed.

    Instead of chasing the top seed in the Eastern Conference, all they have to do is protect their home court. Instead of pressing, they've been joking around. And instead of trying debating what went wrong over the second half of the season, the Pacers will finally get a chance to start over when the playoffs open this weekend.

    "I think we're a confident group," coach Frank Vogel said Friday. "We all know we've struggled a little, but we're excited about the playoffs and we're excited to get started."

    Pacers fans are anxious to see if anything really will be different when the Pacers host Game 1 against Atlanta on Saturday.

    Over the season's first half, the top-seeded Pacers went 33-7. Over the second half, they were mostly mediocre and out of sync in going 23-19. But Indiana (56-26) did build a little momentum by winning its last two for its first two-game winning streak in a month.

    The key to regaining their early-season form will be getting All-Star center Roy Hibbert back on track. He is shooting just 23.5 percent in April, is 1 of 16 from the field over the last two games and has averaged 3.2 rebounds over the last 13.

    To advance, Indiana knows Hibbert must revert to last season's playoff form when he averaged 17.0 points and 9.9 rebounds and helped lead the Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals. Hibbert insists he will be that guy when this best-of-seven starts.

    "I've been doing this for six years now and it's playoff time," Hibbert said, wiping his brow after practice. "I'm ready to roll."

    The eighth-seeded Hawks (38-44) don't intend to make things easy on Hibbert and the Pacers as they try to steal one of the first two games in Indy.

    "They have a lot of length down low, so you have to be able to shoot," said Kyle Korver, a longtime problem for the Pacers. "If you don't knock down shots, you're not going to beat this team."

    Here are five more things to watch as the series begins:

    MISMATCH: The Pacers prefer overpowering opponents with their size inside. Atlanta, on the other hand, can put all five starters on the 3-point line, pulling Hibbert and David West away from the rim. Atlanta needs to win this battle to pull the upset.

    OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE: Atlanta prefers turning up the tempo so its six double-digit scorers can take control. Indiana, meanwhile, has been built around a stingy defense. This could be the most telling battle in the entire series.

    HOMETOWN RIVALS: The next best head-to-head matchup features two Indianapolis natives, George Hill vs. Jeff Teague. The two have been playing against one another for years, and now they'll showcase their rivalry on the NBA's big stage. Two weeks ago, Teague torched the Pacers for 25 points. Hill's job is to keep him out of the paint and slow him down. But Hill also needs to be more aggressive offensively after taking just eight shots over the last three games.

    BENCH PLAY: Indiana rebuilt its bench during the offseason and tinkered with it again in February, all in an effort to chase an NBA title. It's time to find out if Larry Bird's moves will work. Over the past week, the backups have played more minutes and built confidence, both of which could help Indiana in the playoffs.

    HOME, SWEET, HOME: Indiana got exactly what it wanted out of the regular season: A second straight Central Division title and the No. 1 seed in the East. Now the Pacers must cash in. At 35-6, Indiana was the best home team in the league this season but its two worst home losses of the season (to San Antonio and, yes, Atlanta) weren't that long ago. David West said Friday that the Pacers need to win Game 1 to reassert their home-court advantage.


    Research Notes

    From Elias: 137 teams in NBA history entered the All-Star Break with a win percentage of .700 or better, including the Pacers this season (.769). Among those teams, only 4 registered a worse post All-Star win percentage than Indiana, who went 16-14 after the break. None of those 4 teams made it to the Conference Finals.
    The Hawks and Pacers might be seeded on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they've been playing quite similarly as both have gone 12-13 dating back to March 1st. Indiana was allowing a league-low 94.2 points per 100 possessions through February but that number has ballooned to 102.8 since the beginning of March.
    It would be historic if Indiana or Miami turned things around and went on to win the NBA title. The Pacers went 12-13 over their last 25 games while the Heat were just 11-14. Only 2 teams in NBA history finished with a sub .500 record over their last 25 games of the regular season and then went on to win the title (1957-58 Hawks and 1994-95 Rockets).
    Roy Hibbert has not shot well for the Pacers leading into the postseason, and continued to be a non-factor in Game 1. Hibbert was 4-for-9 from the floor Saturday and has not made a shot outside the paint since April 4 (0-for-13 in six games).
    After the game was tied at halftime, the Hawks broke it open in the third quarter, outscoring the Pacers 30-16. Twelve of those thirty points came in the paint on 6-of-9 shooting (8-of-18 for 16 points in the paint during the rest of the game).
    The 8th-seeded Hawks went 38-44 in the regular season. Since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1983-84, teams that entered the postseason with a sub .500 record are just 2-40 in playoff series. The 1986-87 SuperSonics (.476 win pct) were the only team to win a series, defeating the Mavericks in the First Round and Rockets in the Conference Semifinals.
    Things haven't been the same since Danny Granger was traded on February 20.
    Jeff Teague scored 20 of his game-high 28 points on drives Saturday. Teague averaged 5.6 points per game on drives during the regular season.
    Kyle Korver scored 10 of his 12 points on catch-and-shoot shots Saturday. Korver was third in the NBA this season on catch and shoot shots, averaging 8.4 points per game.

    ESPN Stats & Information