Playoff Preview: Hawks-Pacers Game 7

The NBA Playoffs continue at 5:30 p.m. on TNT as the Pacers host the Hawks in the first of three Game 7s on Saturday to complete the first round. Before each game, we will have a quick preview of the upcoming game with a matchup to watch and a stat to chew on as you watch the game.

Previously on Lost:

The Hawks have played valiantly and did so again in Game Six. The Pacers though were better and made the plays at the end of the game especially to close this one out. Boy did this one come close to ending.

Credit David West for helping Indiana finish this one off. West took control of the game and his 24 points were all needed to put the game away. West made some really big plays that more or less saved the Pacers’ season. They played the whole year for home court in Game Seven, here it is.

Matchup to Watch: Paul Millsap vs. David West

These two players have been two of the most important for each team during this series. They just do so much to settle both offenses down and they both display a lot of versatility. While West provides some toughness on the interior, neither are a great matchup for the other and they are not the best defensive pair of power forwards in the league.

That has made this matchup incredibly interesting as we wind to the final game of the series.

West had 24 in Game Six and Millsap had 16 points and 18 rebounds. For the series, West is averaging 15.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. That is down from last year’s playoff run. Millsap is averaging 20.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

The winner of this matchup could very well decide the series. Both are capable of putting their team on their backs when called for.

PaulGeorgePacers_Hawks042214Stat to Chew On: PG+13

It was pretty clear in Game Six that the Pacers were a better team with Paul George on the floor. In fact, Indiana was +19 with him on the floor in Game Six and Atlanta closed the gap with him on the bench with foul trouble in the third quarter. Indiana needed its most consistent and best player on the floor to carry it through these trying times.

That has been the way it has been all series.

Indiana is +9.9 points per 100 possessions with George on the floor. That is a big difference in a series that is going seven games. George has literally tipped the scales in many ways. George is just a driver that forces the Pacers offense to move a bit and forces the defense to focus in. That should only intensify as the Pacers need everything they can get from their best player in this one.

Bloggers Corner:

Pace Miller, Pacers PulseWest activated beast mode when called upon in the last 3 minutes of the game with the Pacers down 84-79. First he hit a couple of free throws and a 19-foot jumper to get the Pacers within 1, before George Hill scored on a layup to give the Pacers the lead. Then, with the game tied at 85 under a minute to go, West hits a running floater to put the Pacers up by 2. Paul George and Hill would combine for 6/6 free throws to extend the lead to 5, and West would score again after spinning away from the intentional foul to put the game out of reach.

Kris Willis, Peachtree HoopsThe Hawks know they have been down this road before. They have won three of their last four games in Indianapolis including the final regular season matchup and Games 1 & 5 in the playoffs. However, they will be trying to capture the first Game 7 win on the road. The Hawks are 0-8 all-time in Game 7s on the road.

Philip’s Running Prediction: It is so hard to predict which Pacers team will show up each game. There has been shades of the team that got the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference and looked like a team that could challenge the Heat. That team is not coming back for a full 48 minutes and the mentality of this Pacers team feels so fragile. The Hawks have had every matchup advantage. Losing Game Six has to be crushing though and the Pacers have to feel some momentum, right? Atlanta has Indiana’s number. Hawks win in seven.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily