Game 1 Scouting Report – Hawks vs. Pacers
The Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks will kick off their playoff series Saturday in Indianapolis. Both teams will be looking to win the all important Game 1 and set the tone for the series.
The Pacers will have the home crowd behind them, but the Hawks have been there before. Saturday will be just 13 days removed from Atlanta’s 107-88 win at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, a game in which the Hawks shot 56 percent against the league’s best defense and went 12/27 from three. Atlanta was able to spread out Indiana and get quality shots, while locking down the Pacers on the defensive end.
The Pacers have already said they’ll be looking at that game and using it as motivation for this series. There’s no question Indiana will be ready this time, so the Hawks will have to step up their game as well.
Atlanta is 2-0 against Indiana this season when Saturday’s projected starting five of Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Pero Antic all start. The Hawks finally appear to be as healthy as they’re going to be, and at just the right time.
As Hawks.com writer Robby Kalland mentioned in his series preview, the Hawks will try to use three-point threats Millsap and Antic to draw David West and Roy Hibbert away from the paint. By doing so, they should be able to open up driving lanes and cuts for the guards, as well as get Korver free on curling screens, but it’ll be heavily dependent on whether or not Atlanta’s bigs are making those threes. When Millsap and Antic started together against the Pacers, they were able to hit those shots, and they’ll have to do it again to be successful.
Defensively, containing Paul George is the focal point. Carroll did an adequate job on him in the regular season and will again be tasked with slowing down the All-Star. George does a good job of not only creating shots for himself, but getting others involved too. Helping on him can be dangerous because he’s so good at finding the open man, so Carroll’s on-ball defense will have to be good enough to allow Atlanta’s other defenders to stick with their guys.
The Hawks have actually rebounded pretty well against the Pacers considering the size mismatch. Once again, rebounding will have to be a focal point, and rebounds means an opportunity to push the ball in transition. Indiana likes to play a half court game, and Atlanta is best when they’re running, so limiting the Pacers to one shot and running at every opportunity will be Atlanta’s best chance to score.
The Hawks are hoping to steal an opening game and flip home-court advantage. Game 1 is at 7 p.m. Saturday on SportSouth and 92.9 The Game.
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