It wasn’t pretty, but the Indiana Pacers clinched a playoff spot against the Atlanta Hawks on the back of Paul George, who scored 12 fourth quarter points as part of his 32 point, 11 rebound double double. The Pacers managed to keep Atlanta at arm’s length most of the night, but needed George’s play to end a fourth quarter Hawks push.
Jeff Teague scored 19 points behind a big third quarter, but turned his ankle late in the fourth, casting an enormous shadow over the win. Myles Turner was only one of three Pacers to reach double figures with 18 points and, but Thaddeus Young and C.J. Miles each scored nine. Lance Stephenson had four points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.
The Pacers will return to the playoffs for a second straight year and will play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. It will be a monumental task to take on the heavy Eastern Conference favorites despite their struggles, but the elevated play of George and the Pacers can’t come at a better time, the health of Teague notwithstanding.