The Good: Everything that happened after Chris Copeland entered the game. Indiana outscored Atlanta 47-33 during the final 19:43 of the game and wouldn’t you know it Cope played every second. It wasn’t that he personally was special. It was just the way the entire dynamic, on both ends of the court, changed once Indiana went small.
On offense, the Pacers greatly benefit from having Copeland and Watson (and/or Hill/Lance) to space the floor while Paul George and David West control the middle of the floor and make decisions. Atlanta doesn’t have the talent to defend that. One of West/George just needs make a move and draw help defense then swing the ball until someone is inevitably open.
On the other side, having fewer bulky, slow-moving guys prevents Atlanta from doing the same thing to Indiana. They can move through screens and not worry about the mobility issues that are presented by Hibbert, Scola and Mahinmi.
Going heavy Cope won’t work against the conference’s better teams, but it will definitely work against Atlanta. We just saw it. If they embrace this and realize that a temporary tactical switch will work, they can beat the Hawks twice in a row. If not, Vogel might wanna update his LinkedIn page.
The Bad: The second quarter. Again. Like, again again. And again. This keeps happening and it was the worst yet this time. They lost the period 41-19. That’s just tragic and dug a hole that even a valiant late comeback couldn’t overcome. The stats just make you think they’re typos: Atlanta shot 13-for-16 (81.3%) in the quarter and an unreal 9-for-11 (81.8%) from 3-point range. Mike Scott hit 5 threes and scored all 17 of his points in the period. Shelvin Mack had 13 in the second.
MVP: Paul George. Didn’t love his decision making early, but he stacked the box score.
LVP: Luis Scola didn’t do any scoring and couldn’t guard his men on the perimeter. He was the one most responsible for Mike Scott running roughshod.
X Factor: Mike Scott. Dubbed The Threegional Manager, and he was certainly stacking paper, metaphorically, tonight, hitting 5-of-6 triples while dropping 17 points in the second quarter.
|David West, PF 40 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-8 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +1Nice little game, particularly when he was moving the ball. Didn’t close out particularly well on perimeter shooters.|
|Paul George, SF 43 MIN | 9-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 12 REB | 6 AST | 6 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | +6Very strong line, but I thought he was forcing bad shots in the first half quite a bit. Went 5-of-11 in that half and I swear all 6 of those misses were contested jumpers. Simply can’t quibble with such beastly stats though.|
|Roy Hibbert, C 12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -712 minutes were nice to see. Getting there, Frank. Maybe 0 in Game 6 next.|
|George Hill, PG 38 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -18Made some open 3s, which is becoming somewhat of an encouraging trend after a rough first three games from behind the arc.|
|Lance Stephenson, SG 32 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -1Turned a layup into a wedgie, which is just hard to do, and missed two big free throws late. Over iso’d a bit early, too, but did add a jolt after halftime when he turned into, as Mike Wells of ESPN termed it, Y’all not doing anything, so I’m turning into Lincoln HS Lance”|
|Luis Scola, PF 8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -16The bench in general was bad throughout the first half, and the great play of Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack made it all the more glaring. Scola brought nothing and got SMOKED by Scott on defense, leaving him wide open way too often.|
|Evan Turner, SF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -14Not sure I’m surprised that he only got 4 minutes, but obviously didn’t have much effect on the outcome.|
|Chris Copeland, SF 20 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +17Was cold to start, but got his shot falling afterwards. Kept up on D.|
|Ian Mahinmi, C 16 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -15Hustling a lot, which was cool, but didn’t add much tangibles.|
|C.J. Watson, PG 27 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -3He’s the team’s best floor spacer (after Cope) and knocked em down tonight. Timely defense to force Atlanta into mistakes.|
|Frank Vogel |
Only took five games and an insurmountable deficit for him to try Chris Copeland, which spaced the floor well and allowed all sorts of easy offense.