The Atlanta Hawks came into the playoffs looking to cause an upset. They moved one step closer to achieving that goal with their comprehensive 101-93 win in Indiana.
The Hawks used a huge third quarter to blow open the game, outscoring the Pacers 30-16 in the period to end the quarter ahead 80-66. The game had been tied at 50 at halftime.
The Pacers backed into the playoffs, securing the top seed by virtue of finding just enough to beat Miami in the final week of the season.
Earning the top seed was supposed to give them the benefits of homecourt advantage in a decisive Game 7 meeting with the Heat in the Conference Finals. Now, they may need that Game 7 advantage to survive the first round.
Jeff Teague rekindled the fire from last season’s breakthrough series with Indiana, using the fire of losing that series on their own floor to will his team to victory. Teague led all scorers on 28 points, hitting 9 of 10 from the line as time and again he burned past his man.
Paul Millsap added 25 points of his own from all over the floor as Atlanta won their first road playoff game since winning Game 1 against Chicago in 2011.
What went wrong for the Pacers? Roy Hibbert looked lost and confused defending Pero Antic on the perimeter. Paul George was inefficient, Lance Stephenson made numerous mistakes and tried to rectify them with one-on-five hero-ball plays and David West was rendered ineffective by having to chase the Hawks’ long-range bigs around the three-point line.
The real alarm bell won’t be the 93 points scored by Indiana, but the 101 allowed for a team that prides itself on being the best defensive team in the NBA. The game was essentially over once Atlanta reached 90 points.
Teams have lost the first game, at home, numerous times only to rebound and handle their opponents.
However, the atmosphere surrounding the Pacers, from their body language to the overwhelming sense of acceptance in the stands that the team is irretrievably flawed, means a slow start to Game 2 could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Jeff Teague – 28 points, 9-19 FGS, 9-10 FTS, 5 AST, 3 REB
Paul Millsap – 25 points, 7-17 FGS, 9-11 FTS, 8 REB
Kyle Korver – 12 points, 5-12 FGS, 2-7 3FG, 5 REB, 2 BLK
Paul George – 24 points, 6-18 FGS, 9-12 FTS, 10 REB, 5 AST
Lance Stephenson – 19 points, 8-18 FGS, 3-6 3FG, 7 REB
George Hill – 12 points, 5-8 FGS, 3 REB, 4 AST
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22nd, 7pm ET (TNT)