The Pacers didn't take long to relinquish the home court advantage they worked all season to attain. After appearing to have things figured out at the half, the Pacers folded in the second half when things started going against them which let Atlanta rest on a 1-0 lead for a couple of days.
Paul George scored 14 first-half points and sparked a strong second quarter which evened the game at halftime. But PG wasn't able to make the same impact in the second half, scoring five of his 10 second-half points in the waning minutes of garbage time.
The Pacers were down two when a knee to the thigh followed by a cramp forced George to leave the game for some quick treatment in the locker room. By the time he returned, the Atlanta lead was 13 and the Pacers were left behind for good.
If the Pacers can't get a big offensive night from PG, they have to look at letting him focus on slowing down Jeff Teague. The former Pike star had his way with the ball in his hands, scoring 28 points which included getting to the line 10 times. PG compared Teague's quickness to the likes of Derrick Rose and John Wall. I'm pretty sure PG would (and has) try to slow those guys down. George Hill and Lance Stephenson have enough length and speed to cover Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll. And if they don't, at least the Pacers are making someone else beat them. The last two games have been enough to confirm, Teague is a problem.
So while Roy Hibbert gets his share of blame and everyone was concerned with Pero Antic, it was the other front-court matchup that was a big difference. Early foul trouble limited David West's minutes and he was never able to get much going offensively. Meanwhile, Paul Millsap was a monster, finishing with 25 points and 8 rebounds. He was good around the rim, in the mid-range area, creating his own shot -- whatever the Hawks needed from him.
The Pacers didn't get many favorable bounces and the bulk of the 50-50 balls went to the Hawks. Too many fouls gave the Hawks a decided difference at the foul line. These are all things that can go the other way in a hurry. But the Pacers' desire to put forth the effort it takes to win a playoff game, let alone a series, also has to go the other way...and in a hurry.
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