The Atlanta Hawks pushed the Indiana Pacers to the brink with a Game 5 win that once again exposed the Pacers problems to the world.
Indiana had seemingly got a handle on the Hawks, leading 21-20 after the first quarter.
That was when Mike Scott stepped off the bench for Atlanta, canning five consecutive threes as part of a 28-6 Hawks run that served to blow open the game and demoralise the Pacers.
Atlanta went on a 15-0 run over the first 2:39 of the second quarter as Scott and Shelvin Mack peppered the Pacers from long range. Atlanta shot 82 percent in the quarter including a staggering 9-11 clip from behind the three-point line.
That allowed Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, chief tormentors of the Pacers all series, to enjoy a much longer rest.
Although neither took over like they had done in earlier games, both found themselves with easy opportunities to score after one extra pass often left the Hawks with either an easy lane to the rim or a wide-open three. Atlanta shot 15-27 from deep for the game.
Shelvin Mack would finish with 20 points and Mike Scott 17, all in the second quarter as the Hawks went up by as much as 25 before leading by 21 at halftime.
The Hawks then pushed the lead out to 30 points, 80-50, before Indiana started to chip away.
Chris Copeland, playing big minutes in place of Roy Hibbert, hit a pair of threes before C.J. Watson scored eight straight points to cut the deficit to 13 early in the fourth quarter.
However, Indiana’s offense then stagnated again and they missed a number of easy looks including one uncontested dunk missed by Lance Stephenson who somehow contrived to jam the ball between the basket and the backboard.
Kyle Korver then drained a long three to restore a 12-point advantage and the Pacers would not get within single-digits the rest of the way.
Roy Hibbert played just 12 minutes in a playoff game and not at all in the final quarter as he turned in one of the worst nights of his career. Hibbert scored 0 points, had 0 rebounds and no shot attempts to go with his four fouls. Most of his minutes were collected by Chris Copeland and Ian Mahinmi.
It is rare that a 26-point, 12-rebound, 6-assist, 6-steal night would slide this far down but Paul George’s impact was a silent one.
To pile on top of the misery, Frank Vogel picked up a technical foul and was seen berating his players on the sideline as Bankers Life Fieldhouse emptied during the third quarter.
The Pacers now find themselves facing an elimination game in Game 6y as the series swings south again through Atlanta. Indiana must win Game 6 to avoid becoming just the sixth number one seed to lose to a number eight seed.
Shelvin Mack: 20 points, 5-9 FGS, 8-10 FTS
Mike Scott: 17 points, 6-9 FGS, 5-6 3 FGS, 5 rebounds
Paul Millsap: 18 points, 5-11 FGS, 8-12 FTS, 8 rebounds
Paul George: 26 points, 9-16 FGS, 12 rebounds, six assists, six steals
George Hill: 16 points, 6-12 FGS, 5 assists
David West: 16 points, 6-13 FGS, 7 rebounds, 7 assists
Game 6 @ ATL: Thursday, May 1, Tip: 7pm ET