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Pacers’ troubles continue as Hawks convincingly win Game 1

Apr 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EST

Pacers' Hibbert looks down court during Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series against the Heat in Indianapolis Reuters

The Pacers ended up with the best record in the Eastern Conference and the number one seed that goes along with it, but the team struggled mightily over the second half of the season, and limped to the finish line.

The playoffs presented a chance for Indiana to wipe the slate clean, and try to get right against a Hawks team that was eight games under .500 on the season.

After one game, things continue to be troublesome for the Pacers. Behind 28 points from Jeff Teague and 25 from Paul Millsap, the Hawks took Game 1 by a final of 101-93, in a game where Atlanta led by as many as 20 points.

Millsap and Pero Antic present matchup problems for the Pacers bigs, and for Roy Hibbert especially. His numbers on the season against Atlanta are substandard, and things were no different in this one. Hibbert managed just eight points and eight rebounds on 4-of-9 shooting, with no blocked shots while committing five turnovers. If things weren’t bad enough from a production standpoint, he even had his shot blocked by Kyle Korver — twice.

What has to be maddening for Pacers fans is the fact that the Hawks finished the season second in the league in three-point attempts at over 25 per game, yet Indiana did nothing strategically on the defensive end to make those shots more difficult to take. If you trust Hibbert as your rim protector (and you should), then the plan should be to overplay the perimeter and chase the Hawks off the three-point line, forcing them into tougher mid-range looks or to attack the normally stout defense of Hibbert inside.

Instead, the Hawks got all the threes they wanted, launching 30 in the victory. And when they did choose to go into the lane, Teague was able to get to the basket seemingly at will, with the rotations coming late or not at all from the Pacer defenders.

Indiana has always won with defense — they rank first in the league in that category on the season (per 100 possessions), but just 22nd on the offensive end of the floor. Still, the team is going to need to find a way to share the ball and create better open looks to get capable scorers like Paul George and David West the ball in position to produce. Those two combined for just 32 points on 10-of-28 shooting, which won’t be nearly enough to get it done in this series.

Lance Stephenson was the only bright spot offensively, but isolated too much to the detriment of the offense overall. He did so out of necessity because not much else was working, but Indiana needs to use Stephenson’s creativity to try to involve his teammates.

The adjustments that need to be made should be crystal clear to Frank Vogel and his staff. Whether or not the Pacers can implement them remains to be seen, and for a Hawks team that didn’t seem all that concerned with even getting to the postseason, they sure looked good in making a Game 1 statement.

  1. Jeff - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    Yep, it’s what I expected and predicted.
    The Pacers won’t make it out of the first round. I wish I wrong, because it’s sad but true.

    • money2long - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:25 AM

      Hahaha. Yes. We shall see. Everyone is so sure after game one.

  2. nfl4days - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Lol. Thinking about Miami and you get handled by the hawks in Indiana. That number 1 seed isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:30 AM

      Yeah it is. They don’t want NO parts of the ‘Cats. At least with ATL they have a chance.

    • money2long - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:26 AM

      I love how people have decided the series and feel vindicated after one game. Let’s see how these post stack up a week from now

      • 00maltliquor - Apr 20, 2014 at 2:09 AM

        I still think Indy’s gonna win the series. However, I had my money on ATL today.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:42 AM

      Well Wade said it best… can’t worry too much about HCA because sometimes it feels like it doesn’t give you any advantage at all (Miami has won without HCA and have lost with HCA).

      Just have to go out there and execute regardless of where the games are played.

      I do hope Indiana didn’t fall into the psychological trap of thinking that the mere possession of the #1 seed was going to provide them with some sort of security.

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:25 AM

        If they did fall into that trap, it’s from the top down. Last night the fans were wearing shirts provided by the team that said “GOLD SWAGGER”. When your organization is promoting “swagger” with its last conference win fourteen years in the past, who is left to keep any perspective?

        I’m saying this in sympathy. We went through something of the same thing down here. The hype when the Big Three were signed was huge. Then, when the team started “only” 9-8, the same voices pontificated on what must be wrong (having, of course, foreseen nothing of the kind in the first place). The operative word in “growing pains” is “pains”. Indy will get through theirs, but good luck to anyone trying to predict exactly when.

      • john242322 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Yeah Home court advantage throughout the playoffs isn’t some sort of security….??

        oh wait, yeah, that is security…

      • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Funny. The Pacers aren’t feeling very secure right now.

        Home court advantage only helps you if you help yourself. It can’t check in and score points for you. If you convince yourself that HCA gives you an advantage that you don’t have to continue to work on to preserve, you’ll lose it very quickly – like the Pacers did in Game 1.

  3. prareedoggin - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    HAHAHAHA

    Only reason Heat made it to Finals was because the Pacers didn’t have the number one seed

    HAHAHAHA

    Nobody will ever respect them if they don’t make it out of the first round vs an Atlanta team under .500. That’s the problem with running your mouth too much….

    This should be entertaining

  4. Observer157 - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    If you want to cheer up here’s a hilarious compilation clip of James Harden’s defense from 2013-14:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wVYJULACcao

  5. mnsadsportsfan - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Yikes! This team looked horrible today. They almost appear like a championship team that just can’t put it together anymore. Its just that they aren’t they have not done anything and are just collapsing under their self inflated greatness. Too bad I like watching these guys when its good

  6. sportsfan18 - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    This is how they’ve played the past two months so it should NOT be a surprise to anyone… There is NO “switch” to walk up to and magically flip to get ready for the post season…

    16 wins? highly unlikely…

    12 win’s? highly unlikely…

    Can they beat the Hawks? Yes. Will they? We’ll know in game two…

  7. lakerade - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Defense wins championships, but not by itself.

  8. lj312chicago - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    The east blows. Bulls nets eastern conference finals lol

  9. kinggw - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Wow. I knew the Hawks had confidence based on their win a few weeks ago and wouldn’t back down. I definitely didn’t expect this. The Pacers are still offensively stagnant and unsure of themselves. Watching the game, the Hawks looked like the more confident team.

    Can’t believe the Pacers are facing a must win already.

  10. pharohislife - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    The Nets are the Biggest Threat to the Heat in the East.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:43 AM

      Nets or the Bulls?

  11. jkirby317 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Just one game.

    • kb2408 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:59 PM

      Apparently you haven’t watched the Pacers the last month or so.

      • money2long - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:27 AM

        It’s just one game

      • jkirby317 - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        So I was wrong?
        Game 1 counts as more than 1 game?
        Game 1 counts for 3?
        If the Pacers win game 2, how much is that worth? 1/2 game due to March?

      • jkirby317 - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        still just 1 game.
        They called it game no. 1 of the playoffs. Guess it means more than one?

  12. hannsta - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    Playoffs are endlessly entertaining if solely for watching everyone over react to single games. Its day one, none of the teams that lost today are eliminated or even in trouble.

  13. seattlesuperchronic - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    WHAAAAT!!?! I didn’t watch this game, wish I would’ve now.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      Makin’ the coconut oil chronic!

  14. chargerdillon - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Watching the game was uglier than the score even shows and I have to agree with most of these posts. There’s only one thing left to tell the Pacers….

    WOMP WOMP

  15. fanofthegame79 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    The road teams were strong today (with the exception of Memphis).

  16. Jeff - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    The last month and a half the Pacers have shown us nothing. I’m not overreacting, I’m basing my thoughts and predictions on more than 45-plus days of sub-mediocrity play by the Pacers.

  17. mannyicey - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Actually, the Hawks are a good team. They have their own style and way in which they win. Teague and Millsap are good players. DeMarre Carroll is underrated and Antic is a good change of pace.

    They’ve beaten the Pacers late this year and they’ve also beaten the Heat with all of the big 3 on the floor. They’re confident because they see matchup problems in different places. The only teams that they are incapable of beating in the East for an entire series are the Bulls. The reason why is because they don’t match up as good against that team. But they play well against the Heat and the Pacers. They play well against the Nets. And they play well against the Raptors and Washington too!

    But can you imagine if they had Al Horford ready to go?

    • john242322 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      LOL…Easy there. Playoffs are a whole different beast than the reg season. Bulls might not even make it to the 2nd round and I bet the Pacers still pull through this series

  18. kb2408 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    Man, this is shaping up to be one of the all time greatest collapses in NBA history! Seriously, Indy might even get swept! And I’m not even trolling, I picked them to win the East and maybe the Championship! The Pacers have major problems. Paul G is clearly not who I thought he was. He forces shots and can’t shoot, bad combination! Big Roy is lost. And times when he is open, they don’t give him the ball. Lance is erratic…to put it mildly. And G. Hill simply can not compete with good point guards, though he tries very hard. Most NBA analysts and talking heads seem to think Vogel is a good coach. Perhaps he is. But someone has to take the blame for this. I don’t see Indy coming out of this tailspin. And Vogel is gonna get whacked as a result.

  19. jolink653 - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:15 AM

    The Pacers are really the only legitimate threat to the Heat in the East. If they can’t make it past the Hawks, although I’m sure they will, the Heat will just stroll to the Finals. This team just has too much talent to not win against a mediocre Hawks team

  20. themagicfanguy - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    Yes you are overreacting, no matter how bad the Pacers have looked. It’s one game. I’m not saying they’ll beat the Hawks, but dumping on a team that’s only down own game in a seven game series is pure stupidity. So again, yeah that’s an overreaction.

  21. danmarinos1stlovechild - Apr 20, 2014 at 3:11 AM

    Hibbert got blocked TWICE by Korver?!? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH…
    #seattleseahawksoftheNBA

    • john242322 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      easy there on the laugh attack…

  22. realfootballfan - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:23 AM

    Damn, I at least thought they’d get out of the first round, lmao.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Overreacting. Yeah, right.

      • realfootballfan - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:42 PM

        Yea, I hope Pacer fans aren’t delusional to think they can’t get beat, just go ask the Spurs and they have championship players. The Pacers have been mediocre for 2 months now. People on the “everyone is overreacting”trip are in denial at this point.

  23. jbeagles23 - Apr 20, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    The only reason I say Atlanta had a shot is cause hibbert is useless against them. Averaging six points this year vs atl? He’s isn’t the best player on Indy but he needs to dominate for them to be a contender

  24. afraz89 - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Roy Hibbert is SOFT LIKE BABY FOOD.

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