Despite the chippy nature of the game throughout, it was well executed and very entertaining playoff matchup. Al Horford even received a very rare technical foul call. If you look past the high-flying dunks and outburst from fans on Twitter, the Hawks did a much better job at playing fundamental defense near the paint and forcing the Pacers to run down the clock and shoot jump shots.
Unfortunately, they did this a little too well, often failing to run Pacers off of the three point line. As a result, many yellow jerseys were left wide open in the corner and they went 6-12 from behind the arc in the first half.
The Hawks had some problems operating their own offense, however, as the 10 first half turnovers will attest. Their free throw shooting woes continues as well, as they only hit 5-10 first quarter chances from the stripe. They finished a disappointing 11-20 from that range and saw lazy defense lead to 29 tries for Indiana in that department.
Larry Drew’s rotations remained thoroughly baffling. To rely on a Hawks lineup with Stevenson, Jones and Petro in the lineup to keep the Hawks in the game is nothing short of a pipe dream. Unfortunately, Josh Smith picked up his 4th foul early in the third quarter and had to sit out for the entirety of the third quarter. By the time he was able to return, the game was firmly in the Pacer’s grasp.
It was a slow, precipitous decline for the Hawks who remained within striking distance until late in the third quarter. The Hawks had a few inexcusable lapses that included allowing a court-length pass for a bucket with 1.7 second left in the third quarter. Who knows what Larry Drew can say to this bunch as they head back to Atlanta but it’s clear one team has the proper chemistry and composure to go far in these playoffs and the other is presently searching for those elements.
Game Grades: Each player is given a grade on an A+ through F scale based upon their performance.
Jeff Teague: B+
Teague had the best game of any Hawk. He kept the Hawks in the game for a long time by blowing by Pacers in transition for easy buckets. He also had 5 assists but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to spring the upset.
Devin Harris: B+
Devin certainly had his moments when he looked like the spryest fellow on the floor. He led the Hawks in points by doing his best Jeff Teague impression. It’s remarkable how similarly he and Jeff play but neither could generate nearly enough offense to combat the Paul George and George Hill onslaught.
Kyle Korver: C-
Yeesh. Shooters shoot but he gave up too many possession with the early trigger in transition. He has to be more efficient than 9 points on 10 shots.
Josh Smith: B+
Josh seemed to make a conceited effort to reign in the amount of jump shots tonight and it paid dividends. Even when he started to take threes in the fourth quarter, due to the large lead for Indiana, it was impossible to be angered at the shot selection. He only played 20 minutes due to foul trouble but had 16 points on 10 shots, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. He he can provide that production for 36-40 minutes per game in Atlanta, the Hawks can certainly bring this series to a 2-2 tie.
Al Horford: B-
With the length of Roy Hibbert draped over him and strength of West forcing him away from the basket, Horford often had to throw up awkward fallaway shots that went wayward. He was able to at least clean up on the glass by leading the Hawks with 10 rebounds.
Mike Scott: C-
Meh. Not much of an impact positively or negatively.
DeShawn Stevenson/Anthony Tolliver/Dahntay Jones: C
Likewise for DeShawn, Tolliver and Jones.
Ivan Johnson: C-
Ivan couldn’t replicate his work from Game 1. After picking up a technical foul, he wasn’t heard from for the rest of the game.
Johan Petro: D
He had one mission: to use his allotment of 6 personal fouls. He came close, stopping one shy of getting disqualified in only 14 minutes of play.
Larry Drew: D
Yuck. Not the way Hawks fans want to see the team bounce back. Drew continues to hamper star players with short leashes when it come to foul trouble (see Al Horford in Game 1, Josh Smith in Game 2) and continually trots out subpar offensive lineups. This Hawks teams does a poor job of creating their own shots so why compound that issue by trotting out the likes of Stevenson, Jones and Petro in important minutes together? For a Pacer team that scored only 94.7 points per game in the regular season to torch the Hawks for an average of 110 points in two game speaks very poorly on Drew and his chances of remaining in Atlanta past May.
I praised Vogel for their work last game and the same compliments remain true today. Many Pacers are gifted with an incredible ability to pass and their defense even improved considerably as the game progressed. You could tell the Hawks were very frustrated during the entire 48 minutes. Though this series looks almost secured for Indiana, who knows if they carry this same mentality into Atlanta starting Saturday.