It won’t be easy, but defeating the Indiana Pacers is something the Atlanta Hawks are capable of.
The Pacers are a supreme defensive team, leading the league by allowing 99.8 points out of 100 possessions and averaging 45.9 rebounds a game. Unfortunately for the Hawks, their current (healthy) roster is not exactly fit to keep up with the “pace” of the, well, Pacers. But can they beat Indy? I think its a possibility and here’s how I think they should approach the game.
Limit Roy Hibbert Inside
In what many experts have considered to be a rough year for the Pacers big man (thanks to a very rocky first half of the season), Roy Hibbert has averaged 11.9 points and 8.3 boards. While those stats may not seem to be extremely impactful, his presence can be felt in the paint on a nightly basis. He’s a banger; a hard-worker that makes life on the inside tough. I’m excited to see how physical the Hawks bigs are in Game 1. If they’re passive, bad things are bound to happen.
Stop Paul George From Dictating the Flow of the Game
Let’s face it: Atlanta is a team that performs best when they run the floor with ease. Indiana plays at a very slow pace (25th in the league) and Paul George has stepped up to become their leader and main distributor (Sorry George Hill, you don’t count). He’s in the running for the Most Improved Player Award (not that he deserves it however; just my opinion) and earned his first All-Star selection this season. You can count on George to bring his A-game this series and Atlanta needs to do whatever they can to stop him from controlling it.
Not Give Benchwarmers Heavy Minutes
Last season, Larry Drew gave bench players a very large opportunity to make their mark on the series with the Boston Celtics and most of them, unfortunately, failed. Other than Ivan Johnson, the other big men on the bench should stay comfortable on the pine. I don’t want to see Roy Hibbert posting up on Johan Petro in a crucial possession. Do you want to see Anthony Tolliver in the game instead of Ivan Johnson (assuming match-ups make sense)? While I have respect for both players (Fine, just Tolliver; great guy), the starting five plus (maybe) DeShawn and (definitely) Ivan should be playing big minutes all series long.
There’s plenty of time to rest in the offseason, right?
Can the Hawks take my suggestions and use them wisely. Knowing their recent team history, I’d guess not, but I really want to see some aggressive play to change my mind.