NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 24th (All times Eastern)
(1) Indiana Pacers (1-1) at (8) Atlanta Hawks (1-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers clawed back into their Eastern Conference playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks, but the matchup shifts to Philips Arena for Game 3 Thursday night.
After a disastrous Game 1 loss in Indiana, the top-seeded Pacers came back with a 101-85 drubbing of the Hawks on Tuesday night. The two teams are knotted, but history doesn't serve the Pacers well. They are 2-14 in their last 16 at Philips Arena.
"We got (to) string (wins) together. We can't get complacent, I know that," Pacers coach Frank Vogel stated. "This team is playing at a really high level and is a serious threat to us. We can't let our guard down at all. We got to have the same desperation that we played (with on Tuesday) going into Game 3."
Game 1 was a letdown from a defensive standpoint for Indiana. Atlanta's Jeff Teague torched the Pacers, who finished second in opponents' scoring and first in opponents' field-goal percentage, for 28 points.
On Tuesday, Teague scored half that amount and the main reason was a key switch made by Vogel. Paul George switched to cover the Hawks' point guard and the difference was obvious.
"I got more of a feeling of what he's going to do and his tendencies as the game went on," said George. "I could almost predict the times he was gonna go and the times where he was gonna just initiate offense. Throughout the game, I could gauge what action I was going to be dealing with."
George had 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals to lead the Pacers.
"That's why he was in the MVP conversation early," Vogel said of George. "It makes him one of the most complete players in the game when he plays like he did tonight."
The Pacers trailed 52-48 at the half, but outscored Atlanta 31-13 in the third and never looked back. They shot 75 percent (12-of-16) in the frame while limiting the Hawks to just a 25 percent clip (5-of-20) for the stanza.
Atlanta outscored Indiana 30-16 in the third period in Game 1 en route to a 101-93 triumph on Saturday night to become the first road team to defeat the Pacers twice this season. Indiana went 35-6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse during the regular season.
Indiana took a healthy 79-65 cushion into the fourth, where it led by as many as 27 before cruising to the easy triumph.
Luis Scola posted 20 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while George Hill netted 10 of his 15 points in the third for Indiana.
Paul Millsap put in 19 points and Teague added 14 points, five boards and four assists for the Hawks.
"They were aggressive, they made a lot of plays and our execution, particularly in the third quarter has to be better. That's what we'll work on," Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said.
The Pacers have won two of their last three in Atlanta, including the first round of the playoffs last season. Prior to Indiana's clinching win in Game 6 one year ago, the Hawks had won 13 in a row as the host in this series.
The Pacers will definitely have to show some fight on Thursday and not the kind that made headlines this week. According to Yahoo Sports, Indiana's Evan Turner and Lance Stephenson engaged in a fistfight at practice on Friday prior to Game 1 of this series.
Indiana players and coaches acknowledged an incident, but didn't go as far as to call it a fight.
"It was just a tangle up and that was it," Turner said.
Game 4 will be in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon.
04/24 10:34:30 ET