Keys to Hawks vs. Pacers Game 6

Photo by Jon Barash

The Atlanta Hawks enter Thursday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers with a chance to become just the sixth team in NBA history to knock off a one seed in the first round of the playoffs, and just the fourth to do so in a best-of-seven format.

Keys to the Game:

*Second-half adjustments

The Pacers came out of halftime with determination and energy to chop down the Hawks 30-point lead to just nine points midway through the fourth quarter. The Pacers showed signs that they would be driving more to the basket rather than settling for jump shots. In the fourth quarter the Pacers fed David West the ball on the block and it worked.

Offensively for the Hawks, the game was a tale of two half’s. In the first half the Hawks played almost flawlessly, however in the second half of game 5 the Hawks got out of their rhythm and had many poor possessions that ended in live ball turnovers or shot clock violations.

*Closing out at home

Coaches and players will tell you there is no harder game than a close out game. The Hawks split Games 3 and 4 at home against the Pacers. The highlight factory was packed for both games with over 18,000 fans in both games. The team feeds off the energy and will need to do so again for Game 6.

The key in Game 6 is for the Hawks to continue to play as the underdogs and with a nothing to lose attitude. For the better part of the series the Hawks have been able to run their offense to perfection. These are signs to come, and I fully expect the Hawks to be prepared to bring a double team when West takes more than one dribble in the paint. The Pacers may combat the double team by spacing the floor with more shooters as they did in game 5, playing CJ Watson more minutes than usual, and giving sharp shooter Chris Copeland his first 20 minutes of the series. With Copeland on the floor the Pacers were +17 a number both the Hawks and Pacers are surely aware of.

Defensively, the simple adjustment to the Pacers interior game, with quick rotations is tough, but with no dead eye shooter the Hawks can afford to help more in the post. On the ball defense needs to get back to where it was the first four games of the series and I fully expect it to.

Offensively the Hawks need to continue to run their motion offense and move the ball. Too many times in the second half the Hawks guards were ball stoppers and ended up taking awful shots. Jeff Teague was the main culprit and Coach Bud played Shelvin Mack heavier minutes because of this. In Game 6 the Hawks cannot afford another lackluster performance from Teague. They need his driving ability and his shot making ability in order to close out this series.

The Hawks cannot ask for a better situation, they have been taking advantage of the Pacers poor play this whole series and show no signs of not being able to do the same Thursday.


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