Sunday, April 21st, 2013 at 1:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: IND vs ATL, Game 1
Scott Agness | April 18, 2013 | Updated April 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM
Arrive Early Sunday: Due to recent events, security measures have been enhanced at most public venues including Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Ticketholders may see additional security personnel and might possibly experience some delay at entry, so they should plan accordingly. Fans attending the Pacers game on Sunday, April 21 are reminded that tip-off is at 1:00 p.m. and doors will open at 11:30 a.m. We trust everyone will understand and appreciate that safety for all is the primary concern.
The Pacers open up the 2013 Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, a franchise they haven’t met in postseason play since 1996. The season series was a split, as both teams took care of the two games on their home floor.
Indiana got their wish of time to rest and get rejuvenated. This will be just their second game over a seven-day stretch, and the first contest for four of the starters who all sat out during Wednesday’s regular season finale.
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Since winning five straight and eight-of-nine games, the Pacers have wandered off their successful path the last two weeks. Coach Vogel said obviously they would have liked to carry some momentum into the postseason—they fell in five of their last six games—but he still believes they have "a great deal of potential to make some serious noise in the playoffs."
Atlanta, the sixth seed, is making its sixth straight postseason appearance. Like the Pacers, they've had some slippage down the stretch. They were on the losing end in five of their final seven games under Larry Drew, who’s in his third year as head coach. Next to him on the bench is a familiar face to Pacers fans, Lester Conner, who spent three years with the team under Jim O'Brien. The Hawks acquired former Pacers player Dahntay Jones from Dallas just before the trade deadline.
Old School Playoff Photos: 1994 Pacers-Hawks »
Keeping the Hawks under 90 points bodes well for the Pacers, as they’re 31-6 this season when they hold opponents below that mark. Forward Josh Smith, who’s lengthy and versatile, creates a matchup problem for the Pacers. Paul George gives up a few inches but will likely check Smith most of the series. Smith is great in transition and can knock down the open outside shot. Where he really struggles is at the foul line; he’s just a 52-percent free throw shooter.
Al Horford and Roy Hibbert is another intriguing matchup. Horford plays the most minutes on their team, about 37 per game. Against the Pacers this season, he averaged 16 points and eight rebounds. Most of his shots come in the lane at a 54 percent rate.
The backcourt has a special matchup featuring two Indy native point guards. Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (Pike High School) and George Hill (Broad Ripple) will challenge one another. Teague has advanced his game in his fourth season. He’s averaging almost 15 points and seven assists per game. Kyle Korver, the second-most accurate 3-point shooter in the NBA this season, is constantly moving and running off screens.
A fact that may mean nothing but interests me: The Pacers are 1-5 in games this season played on Sunday, the only day of the week the team has a losing record. Their best day? Tuesday, where they are 8-2.
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)
“We’re ready to play. Our guys have had three really good days of practice and I think half our guys were wishing the game was [Saturday]. I think we’re very locked in. I think we’re very, very, very familiar with all the strengths and weaknesses of the Hawks.” – Frank Vogel
"I have it in my mind, pretty much what I want to do. Nothing is concrete and I probably won’'t disclose that until we get started." – Frank Vogel on his bench rotations
"I don’t think it’s really flipping a switch. Seven or eight days ago we were coming off a West Coast trip 4-0, one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Just because we had a couple of bad games doesn't mean we’re not ready. We've got a good style of play and we won 49 games for a reason." – Frank Vogel
"This is a fresh start for me. A chance to start a new streak and start building different habits." – Paul George
"I’m just going about it [by] playing the same way as I did this season. I’m not going to add any additional pressure to it. We still have a closer and a leader in David West and I won’t shy away from the moment." – Paul George
"Everyone is focused and everyone is on the same page. We're just playing together as a team and when we play as a unit, no one can stop us." – Lance Stephenson on the team entering the playoffs
- 10 times this season the Hawks have recovered and won after getting behind by at least 10 points.
- Atlanta forward Kyle Korver has made a 3-pointer in 73 consecutive games, the fourth-longest streak in league history.
- The Pacers are 30-11 in home games this season, but they’ve dropped the last two.
- The Pacers’ defense leads the league in opponents’ field goal percentage (.420), three-point percentage (.327) and they’re second in points allowed (90.7). They also remain the top rebounding team (45.8).
Mar. 25 – The Pacers jumpstarted a five game win streak with a 100-94 victory. Up by as many as 28 in the third quarter, it appeared the game was well in hand. Hawks coach Larry Drew played the bottom five guys on his bench for the final 12 minutes and they nearly stole one on the road. The Hawks went on a 9-0 run to cut it to four with 69 seconds remaining. D.J. Augustin picked up a big steal and rifled it across mid-court to Gerald Green, who instead of running out the clock – 34 seconds – he let it fly. "It’s not a bad shot if it goes in," Frank Vogel said of the shot postgame.
Gerald Green finished with a team-high 19 points. Roy Hibbert (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Tyler Hansbrough (12 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles. Rookie Orlando Johnson added 15 points, a new career-high. The Hawks were led by Josh Smith’s 20 points and former Butler standout Shelvin Mack and Indy native Jeff Teague contributed 10.
Atlanta scored 22 fast break points, the most Indiana allowed all season. And after being outscored 42-26 through three quarters in the paint, the Hawks’ reserves attacked and scored 14 points in the paint during the final period. David West missed his fifth-straight game with a lower back strain.
TV: TNT – Matt Devlin (play-by-play), Mike Fratello (analyst), Dei Lynam (sideline reporter)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Michael Grady (host), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter)
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.
Good seats are still available for Game 1 of the First Round versus the Hawks. Find Tickets »