May 1, 2013, 7:21 PM EDT
What is the standard perception of the Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers series? The NBA TV series (that’s where Game 5 will air Thursday)? I’m not just talking casual fans, I mean among basketball people?
“I watch every game,” he said. “I’m a student of the game. I love watching the games. The playoffs, all the games are really good. You can always learn something.”
Even Atlanta-Indiana, widely regarded as the dud of the first round?
“Except that one,” he joked. “I turned that off.”
Thing is, it’s the closest first round series so far — 2-2, although every game has been decided by at least 11 points.
It just hasn’t been captivating television. The Pacers were in control of the first two games on their home court, when it shifted back to Atlanta Josh Smith was knocking down threes and the Hawks won a couple.
Let me try to entice you to watching this game with this sentence:
The team that wins Game 5 will win the series.
The key to Game 5 will be how the Pacers adjust to Johan Petro. Sort of. Larry Drew put Petro in the starting lineup for Game 3 and while he hadn’t been impressive (10 points in two games combined) it changed the matchups — Al Horford was now guarded by David West, and Josh Smith was matched up on on Paul George. For the last two games in Atlanta, the Hawks won those matchups and won the games.
Frank Vogel, the ball is in your court to adjust.
The Pacers need to win Game 5 — as a franchise they have struggled in Atlanta (13 straight losses now) and they don’t want to have to break that streak in Game 6 to stay alive. Indiana needs to get back to being the team that attacks, and gets the ball inside. They need a big night from Roy Hibbert.
The Hawks need to play like the Hawks at home, not the team that often settles for jumpers on the road.
Really, both of these teams settle when they struggle. So watch points in the paint, watch and see who is taking jumpers and you’ll see the team about to lose.
Well, that is if you watch at all.
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