Postgame Thoughts: Hawks Put Pressure Back On Pacers
A few thoughts after tonight’s 102-91 win over the Pacers:
– Obviously home court means everything in this series. The Pacers took care of their end by winning games 1 and 2, and now the Hawks have protected their house. The pressure is back on the Pacers as the series shifts to Indiana for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
– A lot of guys played well tonight, but we have to start the kudos with Josh Smith, who had a playoff career-high 29 points to go with 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. My favorite part about his offensive performance tonight was his aggressiveness. He went to the line 16 times, and while he struggled there, he kept David West and Roy Hibbert in foul trouble, which opened up other opportunities. Defensively, Smith shut down Paul George in the first half, as the Pacers superstar only scored three points. While he did finish with 21, a lot of those were when Larry Drew moved Smith to the power forward position in the second half, meaning Devin Harris or Kyle Korver was assigned to George.
– Korver had a masterful offensive game. Coming off the bench for the second straight game, Korver went 7-11 from the field, including 5-8 from three and scored 19 points. Every time the Pacers got close, Korver hit a big shot to keep Indiana at arm’s length.
– Al Horford played through foul trouble to score 18 points, several of which were timely buckets and free throws in the fourth quarter. Horford hasn’t had a truly great offensive game yet in this series, but he’s had four good ones. Considering the size Indiana can throw at teams, I’d say he’s doing alright.
– Congratulations to Johan Petro and his wife Vanessa on the birth of their son Jacôb this afternoon. Vanessa gave birth around 2 p.m., then co-owner Bruce Levenson flew him back to Atlanta on a private jet to get him here in time for the 7:30 tip. Kudos to Bruce, and congrats to Johan!
– One thing you’d like to see the Hawks do a better job of is keeping the Pacers out of the paint. Indiana had 42 points in the paint, 26 of which came in the second half. The Pacers also made 20 free throws. If the Hawks want to win this series, they’ll need to do a better job at forcing the Pacers into perimeter jump shots.
Game 4 wasn’t necessarily pretty, with 53 fouls calls and neither team shooting better than 44 percent. But the Hawks were able to hold off a second-half charge by the Pacers and grind out a win to even things up. Game 5 is Wednesday, and the Hawks know they need to win a road game at some point to have a chance. It would be wise to win this next one, because Game 7’s on the road are almost impossible to win.
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