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Pacers use trademark defense, resurgent Roy Hibbert to secure Game 7 win over Hawks

May 3, 2014, 9:05 PM EDT

Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game Seven Getty Images

When the Hawks fell apart down the stretch of Game 6 and saw the Pacers use a 16-4 run to close it out and send the series back to Indiana for a Game 7, they had to know their chances of advancing at that point were extremely slim.

Those chances were there at home, but a lack of execution late was unlikely to turn into precision basketball on the road. The Pacers used a strong start by Roy Hibbert and some stifling second-quarter defense to take control, and led by as many 18 points before settling on a 92-80 victory that will send them to a second round matchup against the Wizards.

As for the Hawks, they weren’t supposed to make it this far. But while they used matchups to their advantage for the bulk of the series, they simply didn’t have the veteran presence — either on the floor or from the coaching staff on the bench — to guide the team through the treacherous waters of trying to upend a number one seed.

Hibbert had been missing in action for the entire series, but got going early in this one by scoring eight points in the game’s first eight minutes. Whether Atlanta changed its defensive strategy because of Hibbert’s prior ineffectiveness is unclear, but he was catching the ball in deep post position and was getting his shots to fall.

The offensive resurgence helped him engage on the defensive end. Hibbert finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting in almost 31 minutes of action, to go along with seven rebounds and five blocked shots, and Indiana will hold out hope that this performance energizes Hibbert for the bigger challenges that await as the team continues to advance.

In addition to Hibbert, Paul George continued to regain his All-Star form, and finished with a game-high 30 points on 11-of-23 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds. Lance Stephenson played at a frenetic pace defensively, and was under control for the most part in adding 19 points and 14 rebounds of his own.

For Atlanta to have a shot in this one, they would have needed a superhuman performance out of someone, and simply didn’t get it. Only Kyle Korver shot the ball at a respectable clip, while players like Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and Mike Scott were dismal in terms of their shooting percentage, and as a team, the Hawks attempted 22 more shots than the Pacers, but converted five fewer of those attempts.

Indiana didn’t blow the Hawks out of the building, but controlled the game from the second quarter on while for the most part showcasing their league-best defense. The Pacers will need every bit of that in the next round against the Wizards, a team that on paper presents another very interesting matchup for the East’s top-seeded team to try and manage.

  1. Eutaw's Finest - May 3, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    I was hoping to get the Hawks against the Wiz but neither matchup would’ve been ideal necessarily. Here’s to hoping Game 7 was an anomaly (in comparison to 1-6) and not turning the corner.

  2. jimthebuilder27 - May 3, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    Did they play great defense by having Hibbert flop?

    He always flops when playing against Miami and Lebron James.

    • cantonbound13 - May 3, 2014 at 9:34 PM
      Who’s the flopper?

    • casualcommenter - May 3, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      …Hibbert doesn’t draw many fouls against the Heat, which is what people typically refer to when they accuse a player of flopping on either offense on defense.

      The controversial thing Hibbert does is contest Heat drives to the rim with “verticality,” with the Heat openly complaining that the referees give Hibbert too much benefit of the doubt whenever he makes contact with LeBron or Wade.

      However, that’s not flopping. It’s not getting called for fouls.

      • realfootballfan - May 3, 2014 at 11:19 PM

        My favorite media buzz word, “verticality.”

  3. kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    I know it’s just one game against the lowly Hawks but Roy played well. Perhaps Indy is finally coming out of its funk. That rattling sound you hear is the knees of Heat fans shaking.

    • jasper36 - May 3, 2014 at 9:34 PM

      Yep the Heat should be really worried about a team that took 7 games and 30+ Freethrows to beat a team who finished below .500 for the season. And a center who’s best highlight through 7 entire games was a 13 point 6 rebound game STOP!

      • cantonbound13 - May 3, 2014 at 9:36 PM

        Heat’s biggest fear is a random drug test.

      • casualcommenter - May 3, 2014 at 9:47 PM

        Not a Heat fan, but the playoffs are actually going extremely well from the Heat’s perspective. They swept their round 1 matchup after Jefferson got injured, and whoever the Heat face in round 2 will be coming off a very physical round 1 series that went 7 games.
        Meanwhile, the Pacers look very beatable, having lost 4 games to the Al Horford-less Hawks, and the top-teams in the Western Conference are facing difficult challenges already.

        So I have no idea what he’s talking about.
        A Lakers fan with too much idle time on his hands this postseason I guess.

      • casualcommenter - May 3, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        Typo – the Pacers lost 3 games, not 4 games to the Hawks.

      • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 10:02 PM

        @jasper…we both know if the Heat and Pacers face each other all that is irrelevant. Even when the Pacers were in a free fall at the end of the season they beat the Heat. Remember that? Miami will get Indy’s best if they meet and this time Indy has home court advantage.

  4. nfl4days - May 3, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Kwame Hibbert looked like Roy again today. I’ve been making fun of the pacers these past few weeks but I’ll give credit where credit is due. Nice win today.

    • casualcommenter - May 3, 2014 at 9:53 PM

      Agreed. The Pacers looked a lot better, and they deserve credit for gutting out a win in the end.

      However, the Wizards will be a big test for the Pacers with a healthy Nene and Gortat in the paint capable of contributing on both ends, John Wall handling the ball and creating shots, Beal and Ariza providing outside shooting and wing defense.

      I want to see how the Pacers play against the healthy Wizards before I say they’ve returned to their pre-All Star break form.

    • realfootballfan - May 3, 2014 at 11:48 PM

      Bringing up the regular season to point to why the Pacers will beat the Heat is kind of silly. Like I said early in this year, the Pacers are the Derrick Rose Bulls a few years back with a few more favorable defensive match ups but the same problem with scoring enough to win 4 games against the Heat in a series. Depending on how Clippers/W’s and Spurs/Mavs go, I maintain those are the only two teams capable right now to beat them, and right now, I wouldn’t favor either over the Heat even with the 4 straight Finals trips that I thought would be too much for them at the beginning of the season.

      • realfootballfan - May 3, 2014 at 11:50 PM

        That is the Clippers and the Spurs being the only two teams I think are capable.

  5. jkirby317 - May 3, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    About time that the Pacers looked like the Pacers!

  6. cantonbound13 - May 3, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    #1 team in the east!

  7. jzone954 - May 3, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Steve Kerr lol….

    • cantonbound13 - May 3, 2014 at 10:27 PM

      He has more experience than Spoelstra. Spoelstra was rewinding videos before he got the gig.

  8. jzone954 - May 3, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Good Job Indy, don’t expect those same results playing like that against Wash and ESPECIALLY against the TWO TIME DEFENDING CHAMPS.

    • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      Washington is better than Atl but they’re also a better matchup for Indy. Big Roy won’t have to try to guard 3 point shooting bigs and can actually matchup with Washington’s frontline. Indy in 6.

  9. jzone954 - May 3, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    @kb24, you could be right but if Hibbert continues to NOT be the person he was last year then that will e the major difference. I think Washington can push them the limit. We will see I guess. And then there’s Miami. I’m sorry I don’t see any team other then San Antonio that can actually knock them out, and even that WILL go 7.

    • kb2408 - May 3, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      I certainly hope the Heat players don’t share your false sense of security. Most Heat fans seem to think a tkt to the Finals is already punched. All the NBA talking heads already have the Heat in the Finals too. Not a care in the world. Could be in for a very rude awakening, my friend. But like you said, we shall see.

  10. rodge1 - May 3, 2014 at 10:41 PM


    That rattling sound is Kobe laughing while his salary is still bringing the Lakers down.

  11. prareedoggin - May 3, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Good for hibbert! Hes gonna need all the confidence he can get when its time to play Miami… Im glad theres still a chance we can play them

  12. campcouch - May 3, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    it took 7 games…oh and the Wizards are a more talented version of Atlanta. Good luck with that.

    • davidly - May 4, 2014 at 9:25 AM

      Washington may be more talented, I dunno. We’ll see. But “a more talented version of Atlanta” they most certainly are not.

  13. jzone954 - May 3, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    @ Kb Ofcourse anything is possible and Ofcourse Miami could loose , but I , not just being a Heat fan, but just in general can’t pick against them in a 7 game series . I just can’t. They’ve seen mostly every scenario these last two years and willed past them back to back, so Miami knows what it’s takes.

  14. jzone954 - May 3, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    @canton bound

    Lamar Odom too….lol

  15. jzone954 - May 3, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Kb. No “false sense” of hope. They are 2-1 in the finals the last 3 straight , how can you not be confident being a Heat player or fan? I mean if they loose , then they loose.

  16. hungryhungryhibbert - May 3, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Just gonna need to play one game at a time …

  17. realfootballfan - May 3, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    The problem is, they still can’t score at a championship level. They’re putting up scores in the 80’s and 90’s against sorry Atlanta, and I’m sick of people blaming matchups for this. Atlanta was a terrible team that does nothing well.

    • bougin89 - May 5, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      If you don’t think matchups are important then you really have no knowledge of competitive basketball.

      • realfootballfan - May 5, 2014 at 11:48 PM

        Did I say match ups have nothing to do with basketball? No dummy. I said, what match ups does that sorry Atlanta team have that should have given Indiana that many fits? Atlanta is a terrible team that does absolutely nothing well.

      • bougin89 - May 6, 2014 at 9:18 AM

        Interesting. It’s like you have no idea what Indiana does best defensively, which is funnel guys into Hibbert. When Hibbert has to guard his man out to the perimeter they can’t do that. Any “dummy” could tell you that. George Hill didn’t look nearly as good defensively while Hibbert was on the bench. Weird.

  18. prareedoggin - May 3, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    The Heats ticket to the Finals has already been printed lol i don’t care what you say.

  19. Jeff - May 4, 2014 at 6:54 AM

    Well I didn’t really think the Pacers would make it out of the first round, and especially a game down going back to Atlanta. Especially the way the played throughout the whole series, except Game 7. Especially the way they played from February to April. I am truly surprised, and my prediction was wrong.
    The way the Pacers played Game 7 could be an aberration though. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pacers – Wizards series goes seven games either, because the Pacers didn’t have anything for the Wizards when they played in D.C. in March.

  20. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 4, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    You know how tennis players acknowledge their opponent when they hit one in the net but it falls over for the point? After beating the Hawks in a series like that, don’t you just have to acknowledge that you kind of got away with one and just walk away quietly?

    • davidly - May 4, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Actually, they did acknowledge their opponent, and they do admit that they got away with one. They can’t really walk away quietly, though, because they play again on Monday.

    • bougin89 - May 5, 2014 at 10:00 AM

      Another riveting comment from you. Good to see you aren’t one of the “PBT Idiots” as you like to say. Good job, good effort.

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