The Atlanta Hawks’ loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 on Tuesday was the epitome of what some call “A Tale of Two Halves.”
The Hawks came into the game riding their big victory in Game 1 and kept with the home team for much of the first half, entering halftime with a four-point lead.
The second half was home to a completely different display from both teams.
The Indiana Pacers finally looked like the team that earned the first seed in the East, while the Hawks were no match for the intense defense, and went scoreless for a large stretch of the game. Atlanta was getting a few looks on offense, but the new energy on defense from the Pacers came as the Hawks entered a dry spell and the Pacers left them in the dust.
The third quarter finished with the Pacers outscoring the Hawks 31-13.
The struggles continued into the fourth for Atlanta before head coach Mike Budenholzer opted to rest the starters and concede the game.
The Hawks should look to move on from such a poor stretch, but one has to wonder what may be the problem. The Pacers have been known as more of a defensive team this season. Their more recent play has diminished the view as a top defense in the NBA, but the talent is still there.
Atlanta took on Indiana’s adjustments to matchups well in the first half, but began to have a tough time executing when the Pacers’ defense starting clicking early in the third quarter.
One of the Hawks’ strengths during the regular season has been the elite passing ability that led to the team finishing first in assists per game in the Eastern Conference.
In both games of the playoff series so far, the team has seen a bit less ball movement and the shift in focus may have caught up to the team Tuesday night in the third quarter.
The Hawks finished Game 2 with 13 assists on 31 baskets, a bit of a drop in comparison to their regular-season average of 24.9 assists a game. They had similar assists numbers in Game 1 — 13 assists on 33 baskets, and it may be a focus for the team going forward to try and run more offensive sets like they were known to do during the season. The team did show a few signs during the drought in the second half, as some of the best looks came after extra passes, but some of those shots just didn’t fall.
Ball movement will be something to watch as the Hawks head home to host the Pacers for the next two games of the series.
Atlanta will look to defend home court, where the Pacers have only won twice since 2006.
Game 3 will be shown on NBA TV, and locally on SportSouth. Tip-off is 7:00 PM ET.