Indiana wins series 4-3 (Game 3 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

Pacers 85

(56-26, 21-20 away)

Hawks 98

(38-44, 24-17 home)

    Coverage: NBATV

    7:00 PM ET, April 24, 2014

    Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

    1 2 3 4 T
    IND 24 14 20 2785
    ATL 24 15 28 3198

    Top Performers

    Ind: L. Stephenson 21 Pts, 13 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 Stl

    Atl: J. Teague 22 Pts, 2 Reb, 10 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Pacers-Hawks Preview

    ATLANTA (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers headed south Wednesday, finally carrying themselves with a swagger befitting the No. 1 seed.

    Now, they need to prove they're really back on track -- at a place where they haven't had much success over the years.

    The Pacers evened the series against the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks with a dominating third-quarter performance in Game 2, stifling some of the incessant criticism the supposed best team in the East had endured after sleepwalking through the final seven weeks of the regular season and turning in a dismal performance in the playoff opener.

    Of course, the condemnation will start up all over again if the Pacers falter in Game 3 on Thursday night.

    They've got to keep their edge.

    "That was my point to them," coach Frank Vogel said after a practice in Indianapolis, before the team hopped on a 90-minute flight to Atlanta. "We've got to maintain that."

    While a bit down about their most recent showing, the Hawks already accomplished their primary goal of the series -- win a game on the road to steal away the home-court advantage.

    Besides, this team has endured plenty of adversity in recent years, from a massive overhaul that left Atlanta with almost an entirely new roster to the loss of top player Al Horford with a season-ending injury back in December. The Hawks may have lucked into the playoffs with the worst record of any qualifier (38-44), but they've shown plenty of grit and teamwork to make up for their deficiencies.

    "Our group has been very, very resilient all year, very tough-minded all year," rookie coach Mike Budenholzer said after a film session with his players. "I've felt good about this group all year, and I don't feel any differently now."

    The Hawks did plenty of good things in the first two games, winning the opener rather easily, 101-93, and positioning themselves to pull off another shocker when they built an 11-point lead in the first half Tuesday night.

    Suddenly, Indiana took control, outscoring the Hawks 52-27 through the rest of the half to the end of the third quarter, pretty much removing any doubt about the outcome when Paul George hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.

    "We had to prove our point," guard Lance Stephenson said.

    The Pacers have won only twice at Philips Arena since December 2006, a drought that included a 13-game losing streak stretching for more than six years. But Vogel was quick to point out that Indiana has won two of its last three games in Atlanta, including a series-clinching victory in last year's playoffs.

    "We've won three of our last four if you're counting the preseason," he added.

    Indiana struggled early on in Game 2, trying to get center Roy Hibbert more involved in the offense. When that didn't work, the Pacers turned to more familiar weapons.

    George scored 27 points, knocking down five 3-pointers. Point guard George Hill sparked the offense with his slashing drives into the lane, scoring 15 points over the final two quarters after going scoreless in the first half. Luis Scola provided a huge spark off the bench, scoring 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, most of them jumpers in the 18- to 21-foot range.

    "He hit a lot of shots," Budenholzer said. "Credit to him. Now the challenge for us is to make those shots harder and more difficult and more challenged."

    The Hawks also have to figure out a way to get their point guard, Jeff Teague, to play more like he did in Game 1 (a career playoff-high 28 points) than he did in Game 2 (14 points, just two coming in the second half). The 6-foot-9 George switched over to cover the quicker player and did a marvelous job, limiting the penetration that allows Teague to set up good looks from the outside.

    Atlanta went 10 of 29 beyond the arc, missing 11 in a row in one stretch as the Pacers seized control.

    "Paul George is a very good defender no matter who he guards," Budenholzer said. "He's going to have an impact on the game."


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    Research Notes

    Want two stats to continue the Roy Hibbert poor play narrative? In 3 of his last 6 games overall, Hibbert has had more personal fouls + turnovers vs points... In 3 of his last 6 games overall, Hibbert has had more personal fouls + turnovers vs rebounds... Totals for last 6 games: Points: 27 Rebounds: 28 Turnovers + Personal Fouls: 23
    In 37 minutes with Mahinmi on court, the Hawks have scored 10 points in the paint (that works out to 12.9 per 48 minutes). In 54 minutes with Hibbert on court, the Hawks have scored 38 points in the paint (that works out to 33.7 per 48 mintues).
    Roy Hibbert logged only 7 minutes in the 2nd half of Game 2 (0 in the 4th quarter). The Pacers may want to consider limiting his playing time more tonight as Ian Mahinmi has been a more effective defensive player. Mahinmi has held opponents to 31.6% shooting this postseason while Roy Hibbert has allowed 58.8% shooting. More specifically, Paul Millsap has owned Hibbert, going 7 of 9 with 18 points and no blocked attempts. Against Mahinmi, Millsap has shot 2 of 6 with 5 points and 2 blocked attempts.
    Through the first quarter, Roy Hibbert is 0-2 in the non-restricted area of the paint, and 1 for his last 17 dating back to April 4.
    Jeff Teague (ATL): 1st player in 2014 playoffs with at least 20 points and 10 assists in a game * 1st Hawks player with 20 points and 10 assists in a playoff game since Spud Webb in 1986
    From Elias: The last time two 1-seeds lost in the first round to 8-seeds on back-to-back nights by double-digit margins was in 2006... 04/29/2006 MIL 124 vs DET 104 RD1 04/30/2006 SAC 102 vs SA 84 RD1
    The Hawks outscored the Pacers 20-11 in transition Thursday after scoring 12 transition points in the first two games combined.
    Roy Hibbert was 0-3 in paint in first half... 6 for his last 31 in the paint.
    After scoring 29 points in Game 2, George struggled from the floor, going 3-for-11 from the field. George was 1-for-8 on jump shots on Thursday; he was 4-for-9 in Game 2.
    Since the 1st round expanded to 7 games in 2003, the Pacers are the 5th number 1 seed to trail 2 games to 1. Three of the previous four top seeds to do it lost in 6 games. Only the Pistons in 2003, who trailed 3 games to 1, came back to win the series.
    Roy Hibbert continued his shooting woes Thursday, going 2-for-9 from the field for four points, including 0-for-5 in the paint. Hibbert is shooting 20% since April 4 (nine games), including 18% in the paint.

    ESPN Stats & Information