Hawks Go Cold as Pacers Win Game 7, Series

Saturday, May 3, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game Seven

The Hawks (3-4) went cold at the wrong time and were eliminated by the Pacers (4-3) in Game 7 as Atlanta shot just 30.4 percent from the field in the 92-80 loss. Paul George was magnificent for Indiana with 30 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two steals as he set the tone for the offense. Lance Stephenson – 19 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists — and Roy Hibbert — 13 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks — also had big nights in the Pacers’ series-clinching victory.

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The Hawks 30.4 percent shooting from the field was the third worst shooting performance in a Game 7 in NBA history (per ESPN Stats & Info). The Hawks were just never able to get anything going after a good start where they lead by as many as six in the first quarter. They tried to use the three-point shot to climb back in the game — shooting 11-for-44 — and got to within eight in the fourth quarter, but didn’t string together enough makes to really threaten the Pacers’ lead.

The Pacers’ offense did an excellent job getting to the rim and were also able to convert on a number of mid-range jumpers — particularly George. 35.7 percent of the Pacers’ shot attempts came from within eight-feet of the rim (68% shooting), and 38.7 percent of their attempts from the mid-range (48.1%). George was 8-for-11 from the mid-range as he really got his offensive game rolling.

The second quarter — the quarter that won Game 5 for Atlanta– betrayed them tonight, as the Hawks shot 4-for-20 from the floor (1-of-15 to close the quarter) and the Pacers shot 62.5 percent from the field as they pulled away by 11 at the half. Atlanta’s offense went stagnant and even when they did get an open look their shooters were ice cold.

The Hawks, as they did all season, were resilient in the second half, refusing to lay down as they continually fought back after each Indiana run. Unfortunately, the Pacers had just too much for the Hawks in this game, and Atlanta was never able to truly threaten the Indiana lead in the second half.

Indiana looked the part of the number one seed in the East on this night thanks to the continued good play of George and David West, while Hibbert showed some life on offense for the first time all series and they got a more consistent performance from Stephenson. The Pacers, who had the top-ranked defense in the NBA all season, were in great form and turned the Hawks away at the rim consistently with 13 blocked shots — six from West and five from Hibbert.

For the Hawks, Paul Millsap put forth a great effort with 15 points and 17 rebounds (10 offensive), but like the rest of the team, struggled shooting the ball going 6-for-21 from the field and was held to two points without a made field goal in the first half. Jeff Teague had 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals and showed flashes of great play. The Pacers made the adjustment to be more aggressive on Teague on pick-and-roll defense to keep him out of the paint, and because of the struggles by the Hawks’ bigs to shoot from three, they could help on Teague for longer without worrying about recovering on the popping big man.

Kyle Korver did what he has all season, scoring a team-high 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting from three-point range with three rebounds. Korver gave the Hawks life with the three-point ball, but the rest of the team was just 6-of-34 from beyond the arc. Shelvin Mack and Mike Scott each had three made threes off the bench (18 combined attempts) and combined for 28 points. The two gave the Hawks a boost off the bench in the third quarter, and were a big part of the Hawks cutting the deficit to just eight heading into the fourth quarter.

The Hawks now enter the offseason, but there is plenty to be excited about for the future as the draft and free agency approach, Al Horford continues his rehab from injury, and the rest of the team continues to develop under Coach Budenholzer and the rest of the coaching staff.

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Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

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