Postgame Thoughts: Mistakes Hurt Hawks In Game 1

Sunday, April 21, 2013
By Micah Hart

Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game One

A few thoughts coming up on the Hawks 107-90 loss to the Pacers in Game 1 of their First-Round Eastern Conference Playoff Series:

Zaza Pachulia manned the Hawks’ twitter feed during the game, and one thing he kept saying was that the team was giving away points due to mistakes, but that they were correctable mistakes. I have to agree with the big man (get well soon Z!).

— First off, the free throw discrepancy was ginormous. The Hawks shot just 7-14 from the foul line for the game, which is bad enough, but compound that with the Pacers going 30-34, and that’s your ball game. We’ve seen Atlanta struggle to get to the charity stripe throughout the season, and a big part of that is a tendency for over-reliance on jump shots. That was the case in Game 1, for sure. If they can get to the rim more often, they can put the Pacers on their heels and get some more opportunities for free points. Making them once they get there is imperative as well.

— We knew coming in that rebounding would be a big challenge given the size of Indy’s front line, and that was in fact the case today. The Pacers won the battle of the boards 48-32, including 15 on the offensive glass. There were several occasions  where the Hawks had closed to single digits in the second half and forced a miss, only to see an Indiana player keep a possession alive to set up a basket. Even if they can’t win the rebounding battle, keeping Indy to one-shot possessions will be a huge priority going forward.

Jeff Teague showed up to play today in his home town. Teague was aggressive from the start, and led the team with 21 points and 7 assists. He and Devin Harris are really tough to stop when they both get it going in transition, and got the team off to a hot start with three straight buckets to start the game. They’ve got a real quickness advantage over their Pacer counterparts, so the more they can use that to their advantage, the better off they’ll be in the series.

Al Horford and Josh Smith are such terrific passers to each other in the post. More of that please!

— The Hawks did a good job keeping Roy Hibbert in check. His final stats read 16 points and 8 rebounds, but he never seemed like a difference maker, and for that you have to give credit to Horford, Ivan Johnson, and Johan Petro.

Easy to be frustrated with the loss, as every playoff loss is big, but let’s keep perspective. It’s the first game of the series, and there is still another chance to leave Indy with a victory. Get one Wednesday in Game 2, and we won’t even remember this one.

What did you think?

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