Saturday, April 20, 2013
4/20/2013 08:58:00 AM | Posted by Jacob Noble | Edit Post
The Indiana Pacers were last seasons playoff darlings as they were able to give Miami fans a panic when they took a series lead over the heavy favorites. Indiana is a big team in terms of size but were hampered early in the season by the loss of Danny Granger and the slow start for Roy Hibbert.
The Atlanta Hawks were suppose to be a laughing stock in the league with GM Danny Ferry blowing up the team in a rebuilding effort by trading an un-trade-able contract of Joe Johnson. A team of one year deals that was suppose to fight for the 8th playoff spot, the Hawks took the league by surprise early on.
Being one of the top defensive teams in the league and the best rebounding team will be the leg the Indiana Pacers will lean on during the playoffs. They sit near the bottom of the league in terms of scoring so they will look to play a slow pace and try to keep games into half court sets. Without Danny, the scoring load will rest on first time All Star Paul George and David West. Indiana'a size is something most teams will struggle to match up with as their bench is full of big strong bodies. It will be up to head coach Frank Vogel to pull all the right strings.
Atlanta on the other hand has some decent shooters. The Hawks have shown all year that they play well as a team being second in the league in assists. They share the ball and find the open man often which is surprising for a team of contract year players (11 players). Credit Larry Drew for keeping these guys focused on the team instead of their individual stats. For looking at this season and not the next.
At the surface many want to pick the favored Pacers in 4 or 5 games based on where these teams were last year and the direction both teams are perceived to be heading, with the Pacers building on their young core with title hopes in the future and the Hawks moving a large contract, clearing cap space and looking to rebuild. I think this series will be a physical battle that either team is capable of winning.
David West has been a nice surprise offensively this season along with Paul George, averaging 4.3 more points per game. He’s very efficient, shooting almost 50% and out of all the Pacers he’s the one guy that I’d feel most confident with when you just need one basket. He’s the human bulldozer. When he gets post up opportunities he can bully his way closer to the basket and then out of nowhere, pulls out his patented one legged fade-away, which is incredibly efficient (per nba.com, he’s shooting 65% on both fade-away jump shots & turnaround jump shots).
On the perimeter, the Hawks will have to apply pressure and force turnovers. Jeff Teague and Devin Harris have been playing extremely well of late (Larry Drew hinted at them being the starting backcourt for the playoffs last week), and will be crucial on the defensive end if the Hawks are to force turnovers and get out on the fast-break. George Hill has very quietly had an excellent year offensively, but Teague can bother him if he is aggressive on the defensive end. Lance Stephenson has cut down on his turnover percentage this year (21.4 to 14.4), but still has a tendency to make poor decisions when pressured.
Regular season series (Series tied 2-2)
Nov 7, 2012 Indiana 86, Atlanta 89
Dec 29, 2012 Indiana 100, Atlanta 109
Feb 5, 2013 Atlanta 103, Indiana 114
Mar 25, 2013 Atlanta 94, Indiana 100
Game 1 - Sun April 21 Atlanta at Indiana 1:00PM TNT
Game 2 - Wed April 24 Atlanta at Indiana 7:30PM NBA TV
Game 3 - Sat April 27 Indiana at Atlanta 7:00PM ESPN
Game 4 - Mon April 29 Indiana at Atlanta TBD TBD
Game 5 * Wed May 1 Atlanta at Indiana TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 3 Indiana at Atlanta TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 5 Atlanta at Indiana TBD TBD