Hawks at Pacers – Game 2 Preview
The Hawks are looking to rebound after a disappointing 107-90 Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
In Game 1, Indiana scored 70 points either in the paint or from the free throw line. As I said before the series started, Atlanta needed to keep Indiana out of the lane if they wanted to have a chance, and they didn’t do that in Game 1. The dribble penetration and deep post position that the Pacers were able to get for much of Sunday’s game resulted in easy baskets and a ton (34 to be exact) of free throws. We knew the Hawks would get out-rebounded in the series…that’s to be expected when you play a bigger team. But that doesn’t mean they have to live in the paint. The Pacers are, to put it nicely, a bad perimeter jump-shooting team. They shot just 15-41 outside the painted area, so they missed enough shots for the Hawks to take advantage if they had forced Indiana into more of those shots.
If Roy Hibbert does catch the ball in post position, make him turn to his right shoulder, thus forcing him to his left hand. Hibbert hasn’t developed the weak hand yet, and when Horford made him turn that way, he threw up several awkward and off-balanced shots that didn’t hit rim. He is very good with his right hand, especially with the jump hook, so that move needs to be taken away in Game 2. If he turns to his right shoulder, the other thing he likes to do because he knows he doesn’t have a good left is turn it into a fadeaway jump shot off his pivot foot. That’s still a low percentage shot and is likely a reason why the seven-footer is miraculously shooting just 45 percent for the season.
The two advantages the Hawks have in this series are transition/speed and their bench. While Atlanta won both battles Sunday, neither margin was significant enough to impact the game. In Game 2, the Hawks will have to win the fast-break points battle as well as outscore the Pacers by double digits when the second units are on the floor.
And lastly, the shot selection has to be better. The ball stuck far too much, particularly in the second half. The Hawks are best when they’re moving the ball quickly around the perimeter, cutting and penetrating off the dribble to create shots for others. There are a lot of good shooters on this team, and even though Atlanta did shoot 50 percent, the number could have been a lot higher with a higher percentage of quality shots attempted.
There you have it. One game doesn’t make a series, so hopefully the Hawks will make the adjustments, particularly on the defensive end and steal Game 2 in Indianapolis.
Follow all of the action at the Hawks Playoff Central.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images