Friday, May 3rd, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT at Philips Arena

Game Preview: IND at ATL, Game 6

Scott Agness | May 2, 2013

Matchup

Home court. In the simplest form, that’s what this series has been about. The home team has won each of the nine meetings this season.

So what gives? There are many factors that play into it, like the comforts of sleeping at home, eating the usual, being able to execute one’s routine and of course the obvious, playing with the emotion and support of the fan base.

Related: Montieth: Pacers Focused on Effort, Not Trickery »

Winning on the road has been a struggle for the Pacers all season long. After narrowly winning in Toronto on a teardrop from George Hill to open the regular season, the Pacers dropped five straight away from home. They haven’t had much confidence in other venues, except late in March when they went out West and returned with four more victories beside their name. Since, they are 0-4 in other cities.

One goal of Frank Vogel’s that the team didn’t achieve this season was having a winning road record. They are 19-23, which includes two road playoff losses.

Friday’s Game 6 is at Philips Arena, where as you likely know by now, the Pacers haven’t boarded the bus with a win since 2006. Only Danny Granger, who’s out for the season with a knee injury, was on that team. That’s 13 consecutive losses, a number the Pacers don’t want to add to.

Related: Pacers Seeking Clarity »

According to Vogel, Friday’s game is about playing with the “three E’s”– execution, energy, and effort. Those are all controllable. Each player can decide how much energy they play with and whether they make the necessary effort. In doing so, execution of the game plan discussed prior to the tip will come.

Offense can fluctuate but defense can travel and the Pacers were the league’s best defensive bunch during the regular season. But in this first round series, there has been slippage. In the first four games, they gave up an average of 95 points per game as the Hawks made 46.6 percent of their field goals. In the Pacers’ Game 5 win, the Hawks made only one-third of their shots and put 83 points on the board.

Vogel and his coaching staff’s adjustments paid off in that game and he’ll likely stay with the same rotation – playing Jeff Pendergraph some at small forward against Josh Smith as well as a three-guard set with D.J. Augustin directing the offense. The Pacers, however, expect some more countermeasures from Hawks coach Larry Drew, whose decision to start playing play big in Games 3 helped even the series at two games apiece.

Indiana’s keys remain the same: stay in front of their man, limit penetration, contain the Hawks in transition, contest all 3-point shots, and keep turnovers to a minimum. Atlanta feeds off turnovers and scoring in transition. Coach Drew said ahead of Game 5 that he wanted his team to play even faster against the Pacers, a better half-court team.

On the Pacers’ dry-erase board following Wednesday’s win: “PACK FOR SIX DAYS!” Should both the Pacers and New York Knicks wrap up their first round series on Friday, the Pacers will head to New York that night and open their conference semifinal matchup Sunday afternoon.

But the Pacers can’t get ahead of themselves. First up, they must find a remedy for winning on the road, particularly in Atlanta.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Jeff Teague

Jeff Teague

Devin Harris

Devin Harris

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Al Horford

Al Horford

Johan Petro

Johan Petro

Injury Update

Pacers: Danny Granger (out for the season, left knee)
Hawks: Zaza Pachulia (out for the season, sore right Achilles), Lou Williams (out for the season, torn right ACL)

Quotable

“I think psychologically, you can’t look at 13 in a row. You can’t look at we’ve lost two in a row. I think you just got to look at the fact that they play a different brand of basketball at home. They are really, really good at home. Obviously we made some adjustments that hopefully will pour some sand on the fire to what they did to us down there.” – Frank Vogel on winning in Atlanta

“I enjoy the chess match. I think all coaches do. You just hope your moves work.” – Frank Vogel on making adjustments

“You always feel like you can play better. You’re always making adjustments, every game, whether it’s playing different players or using the players you’re using in different ways.” – Frank Vogel

“We just have to fight. We can’t have those spells on somebody else’s floor. In four-six minutes we’re turning the ball over and giving them extra opportunities. We’ve got to be able to go in there and handle that environment and control the basketball game…by setting the tone defensively.” – David West on the losing streak in Atlanta

Noteworthy

  • All five games have been decided by double digits. Average margin of victory: 17.4.
  • Entering Game 6, teams leading 3-2 have went on to win the series 85.7 percent of the time.
  • This is a big birthday week for the Pacers. Jeff Pendergraph’s 26th was Mon., Paul George turned 23 Thurs., and George Hill will celebrate his 27th on Sat.

Last Meeting

May 1: The Pacers knew they couldn’t afford to lose at home, which would mean three straight losses and returning to Atlanta for Game 6 behind in the series. Pacers coach Frank Vogel’s adjustments – playing big at times, with Jeff Pendergraph at small forward on Josh Smith and other times going to a three guard set with D.J. Augustin at point – combined with David West returning to top form helped the Pacers to victory, 106-83, and take back control of the best-of-seven series (3-2).

Indiana shot 51 percent from the floor and held Atlanta to a 33 percent clip (3-for-14 from deep). They gave up just 83 points after allowing at least 90 in 12 straight games. The defense and poise was there, along with David West, who scored 24 points. Paul George finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Atlanta’s Al Horford and Josh Smith each scored 14.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings | Broadcast Schedule

TV: ESPN2 – Mark Jones (play-by-play), Doris Burke (analyst), Chris Broussard (reporter)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Michael Grady (host)
Note: The Pacers TV crew of Chris Denari, Quinn Buckner, Austin Croshere and Brooke Olzendam will have a 30-minute postgame show on FOX Sports Indiana immediately following the game./>/>

Viewing Parties

Anheuser-Busch and Zink Distributing will be hosting four viewing locations for Friday night's First Round, Game 6 playoff game between the Pacers and Hawks [Preview]. Each location will have cheer cards, beads and t-shirts. There will also be two Pacemates at each location from 6:30-7:30. See Locations »

Ticket Information

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