After a big Game 4 win in Atlanta, the Pacers were coming home feeling pretty good. Well, things just got awkward. Suddenly the Pacers were getting embarrassed on their home floor again. After a close first quarter, the Pacers got torched by the Hawks and were outscored by 22 in the second period.
Indiana’s defense has historically been something they can rely on, but that wasn’t the case in the second quarter. They shied away from defending the 3-point line with the unusual lineup of George Hill, C.J. Watson, Evan Turner, Luis Scola, and Ian Mahinmi and payed the price, allowing Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack to have their way with them.
Scott had all 5 of his threes and all 17 of his points in the period, and Mack had 13 of his 20 points in the second quarter as well.
As a team, Indiana’s defense uncharacteristically allowed Atlanta to shoot 81.3% (13-for-16) from the field, and 81.8% (9-for-11) from 3-point land. To make matters worse, Indiana shot just 8-for-20 (40%) in the quarter.
Coming out in the second half, Indiana needed to really make up some ground in the third quarter in hopes to fuel a big rally in the final period. For some odd reason, Frank Vogel put the same lineup that was completely shut down in the second quarter on the floor to start the third. After more horrendous play, Vogel finally made an adjustment and put the fan favorite Chris Copeland in midway through the third. It took him some time to get a shot to fall–as it should when you get no playing time–but hit two threes in a row to really get the crowd back into it. They only dug into that lead by one point, but then a 10-0 run in the fourth really got the home crowd loud.
Some big shots by C.J. Watson, David West, and Paul George had Twitter buzzing, and fans at home really thinking this could happen. Some uh-oh moments from Lance Stephenson (getting a layup wedged between the rim and backboard and two missed free throws) were dampers, but there was still plenty of time left to attempt to put out the fire and shock the world.
Time became an issue for the Pacers, and letting Kyle Korver hit a very deep three and Paul Millsap another big shot, the door was pretty much slammed shut as Indiana fell to Atlanta 107-97.
Now, after losing two out of three home games in the series, the Pacers head back to Atlanta desperately in need of a win.
It only took him five games, but it seems Vogel is finally ready for a lineup/rotation change, as he said in the post game presser “I’ll consider everything at this point.” Going small seemed to work in Game 5, as it made it very tough for Atlanta to stretch the floor as they like to do and get good looks, and of course that small lineup consisted of West and Copeland playing the big man positions.
The comeback was a valiant effort, but being outscored 41-19 in the second quarter is horrendous, and proved to be too much to overcome. It does give Vogel something to work with for Game 6, however, as he may have an idea to what rotations he would like to use. Anyone who has watched this series that is not a Hawks fan hopes none of those rotations involve Roy Hibbert.
As depressing as this series — and especially Game 5 — may have been, there is still hope. Looking at the forth quarter play, it seems Indiana may have found a lineup that works for them. Atlanta is a unique team with both big men in Millsap and Pero Antic able to step out and knock down the 3-ball, and adjusting to defend that better might just win the Pacers this series. Too bad Vogel took this long to make a change, though.
Before we move on to Game 6 in Atlanta, let’s glance back at some stats from Game 5. Atlanta shot 50% compared to Indiana’s 46.2%, 55.6% from behind the arc compared to 46.7%, and shot 33 free throws compared to 18 from the Pacers.
For Atlanta, it was all Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack off the bench. Scott recorded 17 points after making 5-of-6 from 3, and Mack added 20 points and 5 assists as well.
For Indiana, Paul George played superhero-esque with 26 points, 12 boards, 6 assists, and 6 steals. C.J. Watson was a spark off the bench with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 3-of-4 from downtown.
It’s certainly not over, folks, but knowing the Pacers have to win out to escape the first round against the only team in the playoffs with a sub .500 record can’t be a good feeling.