Post-Game Grades: Hawks DESTROY Pacers

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The Pacers played as badly in Game 3 as they did well in Games 1 and 2. There isn’t much to break down. Indiana jumped out to an 8-1 lead. Then they got out-scored 53-22 over the next 21 minutes. They missed 30 of their next 36 shots.

I mean, how do you even do that?

I’m pretty sure I could make 7 of 36 shots from the hash mark.

The second quarter was particularly brutal. Indiana made just 4-of-20 shots while turning the ball over 6 times. Their 2-of-9 shooting from three-point range shows how poorly they were executing, listlessly running through sets before launching when they ran out of options to score in space.

Tim Donahue broke down some more of the carnage.

Seasoned observers of the Pacers could probably see what was coming by sometime around the middle of the first quarter. The game was still tied, but Indiana was missing bunnies and looked completely lost offensively. By the end of a 27-14 1st quarter, most Pacer fans had to know that they had seen this game before. There was still the possibility that they’d reel the Hawks in before halftime, but I wasn’t expecting it.

The way they were playing, there was no reason to think a comeback was possible.

None came.

By the time the patient had bled out on the table, the Hawks had won, 90-69. It seemed a lot worse than that. (Indiana won the fourth quarter 20-15 as both teams eventually stopped trying.)

This was a return to the bad Pacers team with no offense and a so-so defense that we saw limp into the playoffs, getting waxed by the Thunder, Nets and Knicks. Not a single player had a good game.

It’s hard to know exactly how much to read into this, but it’s decidedly not good.

Plenty of good teams have gotten blown out in the playoffs only to shake it off and win as expected.

Ultimately, losing by 20 hurts your chances to advance just as much as losing by 1 does. It’s one game. The Lakers lost by 34 to the Celtics in Game 1 of the 1985 NBA Finals. They then won four of the next five games to take the title in six.

Then again, George Hill is — no disrespect — not Magic Johnson.

For these young Pacers, there is the psychological, and that’s something to be concerned about. Most of these guys are young. They have never played in the playoffs with any expectations. Last year, against the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic is the only time they have ever been favored in the postseason. Perhaps notably, they coughed up Game 1 in the first-round series last year — in very collapse-tastic fashion — but then won the next four.

Still, those Magic were a decimated crew that didn’t have the horses to win.

These Hawks are not that. Al Horford showed yesterday that he can be the best player in this series, and Josh Smith — when not settling for jumpers — can present a matchup nightmare.

How will Indiana react?

David West’s Game 3 was troubling. He is usually a pro’s pro. After the Pacers stole Game 2 of their second-round series in Miami last season, for example, he was the cooler-headed vet who told the young’ns to get their ass to the locker room and stop celebrating.

But yesterday, he was the one who needed some guidance. He let the officials get in his head. After a call that went against him (he got fouled pretty good by Ivan Johnson as he went up for a close shot), he shoved Horford in the back in transition, sending him falling face first into the lane. A mini skirmish ensued, after Jeff Teague pushed West back to defend his ‘mate. The refs issued West a flagrant foul for the bush-league antics and hit Teague with a technical foul.

That was the worst of it. But West also just kept bellyaching all game long. Or, at least as long as the game was “close” in the first half. And it wasn’t just him. There was one play were three separate Pacers wanted a travel call on a Hawks player, who didn’t even make the shot that the theoretical travel would have given him an unfair advantage on. While Indiana’s guys complained, they let an offensive rebound and bucket go to the Hawks.

Priorities, gentlemen.

These Hawks are not those Magic. If they win Game 4, it’s a best-of-three series with the Pacers likely beginning to feel some doubts creeping in. They’ll be back home, where they are a different, more-dominant team, but Al Horford doesn’t really care about that.

IND ATL

Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at me (@8pts9secs) or Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.

David West, PF 34 MIN | 7-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +4 

Finished with a fine line, but only had 8 pts and 2 boards in the first half while the game mattered. As discussed above, lost his composure.

Paul George, SF 37 MIN | 4-11 FG | 7-8 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 16 PTS | -17 

Got to the line some and rebounded well as we’ve come to expect, but not good. Was somewhat listless out there. It seemed as if the defensive matchup with Josh Smith on the block took him off his game. Settled for some long jumpers.

Roy Hibbert, C 24 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | -7 

Was useless in the first half. Give him a little credit for being the only one to come out of the locker room ready to mount a comeback in the third, but his teammates weren’t into it.

George Hill, PG 28 MIN | 1-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -15 

Just look at the numbers.

Lance Stephenson, SG 28 MIN | 1-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -4 

Rounded out the back-court futility.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 24 MIN | 1-3 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -24 

Yikes on his +/-. But whatever. The starters lost this game. Tyler wasn’t bad. Gets the game ball even. Sadly.

Jeff Pendergraph, PF 9 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -12 

He played just 369 minutes (only 169 more than Ben Hansbrough) in the regular season. Really starting to look like it.

Sam Young, SF 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3 

Barely played.

Gerald Green, SF 23 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -19 

He was making shots in Games 1 and 2 so it masked his inability to know what he is supposed to be doing out there. Not so much here. Orlando Johnson is better.

Ian Mahinmi, C 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 

Remains out of the rotation. Got some send-in-the-bench white-flag minutes.

Ben Hansbrough, PG 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1 

Garbage time.

D.J. Augustin, PG 15 MIN | 0-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -5 

Even George Hill had better stats.

Orlando Johnson, SG 6 MIN | 0-4 FG | 1-3 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -1 

Remains out of the rotation. Got some send-in-the-bench white-flag minutes.

Topics: 2013 Playoffs, Game Recap, Pacers/Hawks

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  • Pulp

    Not that it would have made a difference in this one but where are Mahinmi and Johnson? Green is unchanged by a couple good games. All he can do is shoot almost every time he gets the ball. He is terrible basketball player. He averages almost a shot a minute. Pendergraph is untested and should not be a rotation player all of a sudden in the playoffs. Pretty sure Mahinmi played in the finals. And his team won

    • Joe Betz

      I agree completely. JP can give you energy, but he lacks experience–you know, one of the main reasons Mahinmi was signed to backup Hibbert–that, and his size. Also, JP is a bit smaller and a bit weaker on defense, in general–I think he is better rebounded, but his overall game is weaker than Mahinmi’s. Hopefully, Vogel is trying to build JP up in this first round but then turn toward Mahinmi later…

  • pglive21

    We need to play Johnson. I was at the game and it was unbelievable how inept Gerald Green was. His lack of court awareness is frankly shocking. I also agree that Mahinmi makes more sense than Pendergraph. Pendergraph just looks a little lost in the moment.

  • disqus_doe1i0hzok

    So you have a post-game grades only when The Pacers lose…

  • Jack Wright

    This game perfectly highlighted what’s wrong with Hill and George… Some games, lots of games, they just don’t show up. PG looked flat out awful. His one-on-one defense against Josh Smith was embarrassing. He’d reach around one side and Smith would spin to the other side for an easy dunk. Happened many times. And this was one of the most pathetic performances I’ve ever seen from a starting point guard in the NBA.

    But everyone else sucked, too. West really hasn’t shown much this series, which makes me a bit worried. Pendy and Green need to have their asses back on the bench next game. It’s time to give OJ and Mahinmi a try.. OJ has at least earned it.

    I think we deserved to get embarrassed. We got over-confident from those first two games, and the whole city of Indy plus all the stupid idiots in the media were disgustingly pro-Pacers and anti-Hawks.

    “The Hawks already have one foot in the white sands of Cancun.”

    “Josh Smith doesn’t care.”

    “Atlanta is an embarrassment to basketball.”

    Blah blah blah blah blah. That’s all I heard on the radio last week. Give me a freakin’ break. The Hawks were right there within striking distance until midway through the 4th quarters of games 1 and 2. The inferiority of the Hawks was vastly, vastly overstated.
    Can we win game 4?? I don’t know. The problem in game 3 was that when we got behind by 10 or so, we got all panic-y. We weren’t expecting it. Instead of playing with confidence and composure, we played with the mindset of, ‘Oh shit, we’re getting beat.. We need to score or else we’re gonna lose..!” We panicked. We got nervous. And when you’re nervous, you don’t make shots, and the deficit grows from there. Vogel needs to do a better job at instilling confidence and composure into this team. It actually hurts us in this case that we’re the heavy favorite. We’re supposed to win. And when the Hawks took the lead early on, we couldn’t handle the pressure of doing what everyone expected us to do. So, we embarrassed ourselves.
    Hopefully being underdogs to the Knicks in the next round (assuming we get by the Hawks) will allow us to play loose and play with confidence.

  • dwaink

    I still am not able to put my finger on what makes this team go so bad so fast, maybe they start believing their own press so much that they just mail it in, they don’t have to try anymore because the press says they are so great…bullshit!
    David that was the single worst game I have ever seen u play(and I was at the Laker game when u stunk up the place) in a Pacer uniform and it was all because u let anger cloud your vision. Never never never let anything, any call, any play or player cause u to experience anger again on the court, u are the rock this team stands on and when u suck there is no way they can win. be the surface of the ocean; calm and placid, let all the currents underneath wash and sway, but the surface…the mind stays calm and centered.
    Green stunk it up too but I am not as down on him as I am on the starters, this was another of those games where the whole starting squad looked as if they had never seen a basketball in their lives, no one boxed out, no one tried for the 50/50 balls, no one DROVE THE FRICKING LANE…until PG remembered it late in the 4th quarter. If Lance and George Hill are so hurt that they can’t dribble the ball through traffic and force the defense to either foul them…or give them an open pass to a big down low(that means u Roy,David,Tyler,Pendy-get yer frickin azzes open when the guards drive)…or give them an easy layup(Greennnnnnnnnn!!!! drive the frickin ball under control!!!!)…then let Ben H drive it… go pacers….

  • NLP

    Amazing how bad the team plays at Phillips Arena, and count me in the group that feels we need Ian back in there I would want OJ out there too but he has made just 4-of-31 going back into the RS.

    My biggest pet peeve is when the team can’t score a point is we never give the ball to Tyler and see if what he does works or at least changes the game flow, He played over half of the first half and only time he touched the ball around the rim was when he got an offensive rebound. Playing 5 on 4 on the road vs a desperate team isn’t going to work for us as we have a hard enough time beating winning teams on the road with or full starting 5.

    We need one of those Men in Black flash deals to erase this from our Memory because there is no way can will every play this bad again so need thinking about it but we do need to find a way to snap this long losing streak in Atlanta to protect against a home slip up killing us.

  • http://twitter.com/wdeeit Will

    The guys just played a sh***y game. I’m usually not one to get too flustered over a poor performance…but they’ve played like complete crap in Atlanta. That is cause for concern. I know they’ll come back strong tomorrow, this team is pretty resilient.

    In Vogel’s defense of how he’s playing the lineup:

    He’s been riding the hot hand. GG had turned in some big performances, it’s just too bad he’s so hit or miss. I would shorten his leash, but continue to give him a shot. He’s explosive and often can pour it in. Pulp is a solid player and should get minutes for experience, but for those crying Pendy is inexperienced and is caught up in the moment, that is exactly why I think Vogel is hesitant to ride Pulp in the playoffs. He’ll get some burn and possibly hit a big shot or two. It’s hit or miss. We dont’ have a solid guy off the bench who can supply the scoring – why not ride what’s been hot? Same goes for Pendy – although I do agree Ian should be getting more minutes.

    Looking forward to a strong performance tomorrow! And possibly a little bit of a shakeup!

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