Apr 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers bench (left to right) Donald Sloan, Ian Mahinmi, Evan Turner, Roy Hibbert, and Rasual Butler look on as they lose to the Atlanta Hawks in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Atlanta defeats Indiana 107-97. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Huge Deficit Proves Too Much for Pacers to Overcome in Game 5 Loss

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.

Tags: Indiana Pacers

  • metalhead65

    certainly not over? so the hope is they win the next game in atlanta so they can lose game 7 at home? all season pacer fans have had to listen to heat fans deride them and talk about how the regular season means nothing and thanks to our team they have been proven right. if they some how do manage to avoid getting beat they will just just lose the next round. since they were were so obsessed with the heat maybe they noticed that they took care of the bobcats with no problem like a real winner should. maybe they played them tough but they did not choke and swept them like a superior team should. the pacers have to be the most weak minded contending team in any sport. spare me the granger trade nonsense these guys are professionals and getting paid good money and should not need a babysitter. you don’t have to like the guys on your team but do have to play as a team. and since they can’t do that there will be a few playing elsewhere next season. so long hill and stephenson. they need a point guard who can distribute the ball and knock down shots when needed not a shoot first one. and stephenson is just a all round me guy so good riddance. and vogel has turned into obrien jr. inflexible and unwilling to make the changes needed to win. good luck on your next job because you do not deserve to come back. after this debacle.

    • Brandon Burton

      You are wrong on almost every point you make. Especially the part about firing Vogel; if there is one person in the entire organization who is least to blame for the collapse, it is Frank Vogel. Also, if the Pacers win game 6, and do it convincingly, they’ll come back to a crazy environment, with renewed confidence, no less; if the Pacers win game 6, game 7 will be a blowout win.

      • metalhead65

        I am wrong on every count? so according to you it is nobody’s fault that this team has collapsed and imploded? nobody should be held accountable for this embarrassing excuse of a series? teammates wanting to kill lance stephenson does not mean he is a selfish player? hill standing around turning the ball over under pressure and missing shots is what a point guard is suppose to do? vogel not changing anything and going with the same match ups that are killing the pacers is what a good coach should do and not his fault? I love the pacers but but blind loyalty such as yours is nuts. hope I am wrong but am sick of this series being so such a roller coaster. the hawks do not even belong in the playoffs and will be swept by who they play next but are taking it to the #1 seed? what on earth after watching this team play makes you think they will the win next game let alone convincingly? then game 7 will be a blowout? have we been watching the same team? as for the environment for a game 7 , after the performance they put on in the last game I would not be so sure they get a warm welcome back.

        • Brandon Burton

          I didn’t say nobody should be held accountable; I said Vogel shouldn’t. Trading away one of the team’s leaders (Granger) for a player that doesn’t even fit the Pacers system (Turner), as well as bringing in a known locker-room cancer like Bynum were terrible front office moves. Then you have Stephenson getting into fights with teammates and Hibbert looking like he hasn’t played a game in his life. That is not on Vogel; he is the most upbeat coach in the league (That’s what he is known for) and has tried everything in his power to get the team back on track, but THE TEAM hasn’t responded (Outside of George, West, and Scola who have played really well). And, yes, if the Pacers convincingly win in ATL, I do believe game 7 won’t be close. If they barely win game 6, then it’ll be different; but, like I said, beating the Hawks by at least 12-15 will give them a big enough shot in the arm to get back on track and destroy the Hawks in game 7. As for being blindly loyal, maybe I am, but what do you expect? You want me to just give up and start screaming, “The Sky Is Falling!” over and over again. The Pacers were hands down the best team in the league for 2/3 of the season, and unless the horn blows on the Hawks win that sends the Pacers packing, I’m not willing to give up hope that they can get back to their winning ways.

          • metalhead65

            again tell me how a guy who no longer has it and was taking up 14 million in salary cap was a bad move? I don’t care how young these guys are they are getting paid to be professional players and should not need a babysitter like granger. as for turner I would think it would be up to the coach to make adj. so he fits in with the team. the problem I believe is that he plays the same spot stephenson does and he did not like the fact he no longer had the Pacers over a barrel in contract negotiations. they had somebody who could replace him and he didn’t like it.plus roy hibbert has forgotten how to play and should not be playing. at this point all he is a tall guy on the court and should be benched at least for this series. he is getting paid big bucks so who cares if his feelings are hurt. your telling me signing a guy who everybody knew would most likely not play was so upsetting to the other guys they collapsed over his signing? if so another example of the weak mentality of this team. they have had more than enough time to get back to their winning ways and if they have not by now they will not.

          • Brandon Burton

            1. Granger was a free agent after this year; his cap number was meaningless. Also, he still plays better defense and shoots the ball better at this stage of his career than Evan Turner has ever shown himself to be capable of.
            2. Every great NBA team has a veteran leader (or more than 1); regardless of whether that leader plays consistently; i.e. Boris Diaw (Spurs) and Udonis Haslem (Heat) are vet. role players and yet their teammates look to them for a sense of leadership.
            3. For Turner to fit in, Vogel would have to give up everything that made the team good, because Turner doesn’t fit a defense-first mentality and is an on-ball offensive player who has little to nothing to offer offensively when he isn’t the primary ball handler.
            4. Hibbert’s issues are obviously mental, not physical. He isn’t a “lost cause”, he just needs major help getting his confidence back.
            5. The fact that the Pacers were expecting nothing out of Bynum makes it stupider, not smarter, that he was signed.
            6. Any team in the league would have seen their confidence crumble under the poor luck (Via multiple simultaneous and severe player slumps) and intense scrutiny they’ve had to endure. One really good, solid win where everybody plays well, or at least adequately, is all it will take for them to turn it around.

          • metalhead65

            so what your saying is the guy who built the team that won in the first half of the season is at fault? absolutely right, it’s his fault he did not realize the team was mentally weak and could not handle the pressure they put on themselves by constantly talking about this was the year they beat the heat. he should have known that getting rid of a babysitter was going to cause the team to implode. he should have kept him so his salary could go to resigning a guy who everyone on the team hates in stephenson right? this a guy who when he was playing his team traded his best friend on the team but did not whine and cry about it. he did not get along with one of the best power forwards to ever play the game but they played together and won 3 championships. they get no sympathy from me because they are not mentally tough. these guys have been in the playoffs before and battled the heat down to the wire last year and should not be using granger as a crutch for choking. isn’t west a vet? isn’t scola a vet? they need to shut up and grow up!

          • Brandon Burton

            I’m sorry, but its becoming hard for me to believe you are really a fan of the Pacers. And, if you really are a fan, your attitude makes it impossible for me to believe that you were a fan before the team became relevant in 2010-2011, and if you weren’t a fan before that; I have no motivation to reason with you.

          • metalhead65

            I hate to disappoint you but I have been a fan since the ABA days. so because I fell for the hype all season and they have crashed and burned to the point of being eliminated by a by a team with no business being in the playoffs I am not a fan? it’s called reality you should try it sometime. again I hope I am wrong but they have shown nothing to make to make me believe that the light will suddenly turn on and they will make it to the showdown with the heat we all were lead to believe was coming. remember the Pacers were the ones doing the talking and now that they can’t back it up I am still suppose to have faith? because I differ with your views I can’t be reasoned with? you dismiss all my views even though the Pacers continue back them up with their play but I can’t be reasoned with? let me guess you are a cubs fan to? you continue to believe even though next year never comes.

          • Brandon Burton

            Cubs fan? Ha. I like the Rays.