Trailing the worst team in the playoffs by a 2-1 margin in a first-round series, you’d think the struggling top-seeded Indiana Pacers would make some changes and switch things up.
But no, they won’t, says Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
Most believe that Indiana should take 7’2″ center Roy Hibbert out of the starting lineup due to Atlanta’s ability to stretch the floor.
Every player in the Hawks’ starting unit can knock down 3-pointers, including 6’8″ power forward Paul Millsap and 6’11″ center Pero Antic, and that makes it incredibly difficult for Hibbert, who is used to staying down low and protecting the rim. However, with Atlanta’s ability to stretch the floor and hit 3′s, it forces Hibbert to move out of his comfort zone by the basket and defend out on the perimeter. This in turn gives Hawks speedy point guard Jeff Tegaue the freedom to drive the lane with ease since there is no monstrous defender protecting the rim.
However, it’s not only on the defensive end that Hibbert is struggling, it’s the offensive side as well.
Hibbert has only scored 18 total points through the first three playoff games — that an average of just 6.0 points per game for you non-Math majors.
Although, despite his ineffectiveness on both sides of the ball, coach Vogel is sticking with Hibbert in the starting lineup.
On the other hand, the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks shouldn’t change a thing because what they’re doing is obviously working.
The Hawks have a 2-1 lead over the No.1 seed Pacers and could take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a win in Game 4 this afternoon.
Teague tore the Pacers up in Game 3 with 22 points and 10 assists. Teammates DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap also made huge contributions in the Hawks’ 98-85 win on Thursday, as Korver (20) and Carroll (18) combined for 38 points while Millsap added 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Atlanta will look to duplicate their performance in Game 3 in hopes of winning Game 4, which would give them a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Click here for the full Game 4 preview.
Who?: Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta Hawks
What?: Game 4 of First-Round Playoff Series
Where?: Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)
When?: Saturday, April 26, 2014 – 2:00 PM (ET)
PG: Teague | SG: Korver | SF: Carroll | PF: Millsap | C: Antic
PG: Hill | SG: Stephenson | SF: George | PF: West | C: Hibbert
Atlanta Hawks: Gustavo Ayon (right shoulder surgery), Al Horford (right pectoral muscle surgery) and John Jenkins (lower back surgery) are out.
Indiana Pacers: Andrew Bynum (sore right knee) is out.
Current Records, Streaks & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold
Playoff Records: Atlanta Hawks (2-1) / Indiana Pacers (1-2)
Regular-Season Records: Atlanta Hawks (38-44) / Indiana Pacers (56-26)
Streaks: Atlanta Hawks –> OVERALL: Won 1 | HOME: Won 1 | ROAD: Lost 1 Indiana Pacers –> OVERALL: Lost 1 | HOME: Won 1 | ROAD: Lost 1
Home/Away Records: Hawks were (24-17) at home / Pacers were (21-20) away.
Atlanta Hawks: Lukewarm. The Hawks regained the momentum they lost in Game 2 and then some with a big win Thursday night in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead.
Indiana Pacers: Cold. The Pacers are down 2-1 to an 8th-seed. They’re in serious trouble of getting bounced out in the first-round if they lose Game 4, which is in Atlanta.
Series Notes/Past Series Notes
The 2014 postseason marks the sixth time the Hawks and Pacers have met in the NBA Playoffs and fifth time in the opening round. Atlanta is 11-14 all-time against Indiana in the playoffs (7-4 at home and 4-10 on the road). They have lost three of the previous five playoff series versus the Pacers, including last season’s first round series, 4-2.
Hawks Assistant Coach Jim Thomas played two seasons for Indiana (1983-85) after being selected by the Pacers in second round of the 1983 NBA Draft, following a standout career at Indiana University. Hawks Assistant Coach Darvin Ham played one game for the Pacers in 1996-97. Jeff Teague is a native of Indianapolis (Pike High School). Shelvin Mack attended Butler University in Indianapolis. Donald Sloan played five games for Atlanta in 2011-12. Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson teamed-up with Chicago from 2010-12. Korver (Chicago 2010-11) has also been teammates with Rasual Butler. George Hill (2008-11) and Ian Mahinmi (2007-10) played for San Antonio while Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer was an Assistant on the Spurs bench. Luis Scola teamed with DeMarre Carroll in Houston for part of 2010-11.