Apr 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) battles for a loose ball with Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Hawks have only been the 8th seed in the playoffs once in their history.
During the 2008 postseason, the Hawks went up against the top-seeded Boston Celtics where they would push the series to seven games before the Celtics came out on top on their home floor.
Tonight, a very different Atlanta team will be looking to avoid repeating history by winning a Game 7 on the road in Indianapolis.
The odds are in favor of the Pacers as they prepare to play in front of their home crowd.
No 8th seed has ever entered a Game 7 and come out victorious.
Atlanta is 0-8 all-time on the road in Game 7’s.
The Hawks will be looking to end that streak to advance on to face the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
Game 6 was another close matchup between the two teams, but a three minute stretch without a field goal from the Hawks in the 4th quarter was all the Pacers needed to put the game away in their favor.
Atlanta left some to be desired from the offensive end, only shooting 35.8% from the field and 25.7% from beyond the arc.
The team kept up with the Pacers through their shooting woes by out-rebounding the top seed during the first half.
Indiana managed to remove the rebounding deficit in the second half and their 95-88 victory was the result of this effort.
Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap headlined the Hawks’ effort in Game 6.
Teague would finish the night with 29 points and Millsap would have earn an impressive double double with 16 points and 18 rebounds.
The Hawks will continue to look to these two for leadership as they look to upset the Pacers in Indianapolis.
Atlanta has seemed to shoot much better on the road in this series, an important factor that has led to a 2-1 record for the Hawks in Indianapolis so far.
Another good performance from the field by the Hawks will be necessary for an upset at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Game 6 saw another decrease in the Hawks’ assists numbers that are contrary to their usual passing efforts the team has shown all year. The Hawks only tallied 14 assists on 29 baskets and the team will need to increase those numbers to what is usual from the team to support better shooting numbers.
The Hawks aren’t expected to make any big changes entering Game 7.
Pero Antic continued his struggles on the offensive end, but his benefit the Hawks have from just his presence on the perimeter will be enough for coach Mike Budenholzer to stick with the same lineup from the previous 6 games. He will still need to find more success to help the Hawks, but the team won’t hesitate to opt for Mike Scott or Elton Brand to take his place if the struggles continue.
Besides a stellar dunk on Ian Mahinmi, Mike Scott was much quieter in Game 6 in comparison to Game 5 and he will be needed for offensive output off the bench as the second team has struggled to execute at times during this series.
The Pacers are finally making the right adjustments to their lineup and rotations, and success has been a result of the moves.
Roy Hibbert has been completely absent the last two games and the Pacers have opted for a small lineup that has been better against the Hawks’ “five-out” strategy on the offensive end.
The Pacers starters, sans Roy Hibbert, logged heavy minutes in Game 5, but each responded with better performances as a whole, with both David West and Paul George providing 24 points each and Lance Stephenson also adding 21 points.
Indiana may look to their bench more in Game 7, especially Luis Scola, who has been a key part in the series, but only logged 12 seconds in Game 6.
Both teams will likely make some changes during the game in the face of elimination however, no lineup changes are expected from either side.
Game 7 will tip-off at 5:30 PM ET on TNT.