Game 6 Scouting Report: Hawks vs. Pacers
The Atlanta Hawks are one win away from eliminating the top-seeded Indiana Pacers, but even after an impressive Game 5 road win, Atlanta knows nothing will be easy at home.
“Our guys will have to have the appropriate mental toughness and discipline,” Coach Bud said after practice Wednesday.
And he’s right. The Hawks are likely about to take Indiana’s best punch. The Pacers have won both of their “must win” games in this series, and they may have found something late in a Game 5 loss.
Though head coach Frank Vogel likely won’t talk publicly about any adjustments, there’s little doubt he’s at least considering a smaller lineup for Game 6. With their backs against the wall, nothing is a bad idea, and they’ve been more effective when Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi on the bench. In just one 15 minute stretch Monday night, they were able to outscore the Hawks by 22 using a lineup primarily consisting of George Hill, C.J. Watson, Paul George, Chris Copeland and David West. They probably won’t start with that, but don’t be surprised if they go with a similar-looking lineup at some point. With the smaller lineup they were able to play faster, break down defenders off the dribble and space the floor with shooters – something that’s much more difficult to do when Hibbert and Mahinmi are in the game.
Offensively, the Hawks have to continue to move the ball, keep things spaced, get into their offense early and run when possible. Late in Game 5, their offense got out of sync because they became passive. They weren’t cutting, cutting or making quick passes, and that led to a lot of contested shots late in the clock.
Defensively, the Hawks have been extremely good throughout the series. The big thing now is to be ready for any adjustments should the Pacers make them. Keeping the ball out of the lane and avoiding foul trouble usually leads to success against Indiana, and that should still be the game plan for the Hawks again on Thursday.
It should be a raucous crowd on Thursday, and the Hawks will have to stay calm and not get caught up in it. Atlanta is in a great position but needs to take advantage of having Game 6 at home.
Fans are also being asked to wear RED to the game.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/NBAE/Getty Images