The NBA Playoffs continue at 7 p.m. on TNT as the Pacers host the Hawks, hoping to avoid a 2-0 hole in the Eastern Conference 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:
Um… so, yeah. The Hawks really routed the Pacers in Game One and stunned the basketball world. Most people figured even the Pacers in their fragile state would be able to handle the woebegone Hawks in the first game at home. Silly us. Indiana has not quite woken from its malaise and frustration mounted as Indiana’s poor body language easily showed. Atlanta were like sharks circling in the water at the end of this game.
The Pacers have to figure out how to exploit the matchup wtih Roy Hibbert and Pero Antic or concede that Hibbert being that far away from the basket guarding Antic is unsustainable and bench the former All-Star center. It really is that simple it seems. Not that David West or whoever Indiana can put on Paul Millsap will provide that much more of a matchup advantage.
Matchup to Watch: Jeff Teague vs. George Hill
In Game One, Jeff Teague simply went off. Teague put in 28 points on 9-for-19 shooting and absolutely carved up Indiana’s defense, leaving Evan Turner limping in his wake. It was an epic performance from Teague as the one guy on the Hawks offense that can really control tempo and sling the ball.
If Indiana wants to show everyone that it can still compete for a championship, it has to start with corralling the Hawks’ star point guard. George Hill got the assignment first and failed miserably at it. The rumor is that the Pacers will adjust and put the bigger Paul George on Teague in this game to try to slow down the Hawks’ livewire. If that is what it takes, the Hawks have already put a huge dent in Indiana’s confidence.
Stat to Chew On: Playoff Teague
The Twitterverse loves Jeff Teague when he turns things on in the Playoffs. Including Game One’s 28-point performance, Teague is averaging 14.1 points per 36 minutes and 4.3 assists per 36 minutes in the Playoffs. Of course, he spent a good chunk of that time coming off the bench or playing behind Al Horford, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith in the lineup. Any thing he had to do had to be done in their shadows so to speak.
Teague is unleashed now and had that big game mentality really on display in the first game of the Playoffs. It was a surprise that he put up those kind of numbers only because it was against this defense. Teague in the Playoffs is almost an expected thing now.
Pace Miller of Pacers Pulse: Well that was disappointing. The Pacers came out on a roll against the Hawks in their first round matchup tonight, scoring the first basket on a David West dunk and the second on a Roy Hibbert hook shot. The Hawks would shoot their way to a lead as the Pacers gave up one frustrating long offensive rebound after another, but Paul George and Lance Stephenson carried the team in the second quarter to go up by as much as 6 points. Then Paul George undid all his good work, missing bad shots and turning the ball over as the Hawks closed with a 7-1 run to tie the score at 50 apiece at halftime.
Kris Willis of Peachtree Hoops: The Pacers on the other hand have changes to be made whether they are in attitude or via a lineup change. Jeff Teague has been the focus since he scored 28 points in Game 1. Frank Vogel hinted on Sunday that Paul George could see some time guarding Teague but wasn’t willing to reveal any details at this morning’s shootaround.
Philip’s Running Prediction: The Hawks were definitely impressive in Game One. I sort of figured they would give the Pacers a wake up call in the first half before the Pacers snapped out of it and dominated. It took the whole game . . . and maybe more. Indiana has to be ready in Game Two or this could get dicey. I still believe that good Pacers team is there somewhere. And I believe they begin to emerge. Hawks earned themselves another game with the win. I still have Pacers in six.