Post-Game Grades: Hawks DESTROY Pacers


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.

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.