Atlanta finished the season 38-44, good enough for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Some debated whether or not they deserved a playoff spot, as the 48 win Phoenix Suns failed to clinch an 8th spot in the Western Conference. The Pacers, meanwhile, finished 56-26, which gave them the 1st seed and home court advantage throughout the eastern conference playoffs. What took place was shocking to some, to others not. Indiana has not lived up to the hype they placed upon themselves, as they hit the wall after the All Star break, and have not recovered since. Frank Vogel might be regretting that little “we’re back” comment right now. Throughout the whole game, there was never a feeling of the Pacers taking control, even though at one point they held a 49-43 lead in the first half. The Hawks responded at every turn, evening up the score at 50 at the half and would then proceed to blow this game open on Indy’s home floor. Jeff Teague was phenomenal, scoring a playoff career high 28 points on 9-19 shooting, including an impressive 9-10 from the free throw line. Paul Millsap was also extremely impressive, scoring 25 points, dominating Hibbert and West down low and also hitting two three pointers, one of them a four point play. He added 8 rebounds and a block.
For Indiana, their offensive struggles continued. Paul George scored 24, but shot only 6-18 from the field, and 3-8 from three. Roy Hibbert struggled yet again, scoring only 8 points on 4-9 shooting most of which coming with the game well out of reach. He grabbed 8 boards, but also committed 5 fouls. David West was a no-show as well, shooting 4-10 from the floor and only scoring 8 points, and one confrontation with Pero Antic. Overall, the scary thought is Atlanta looked like the superior team yesterday, and Indiana is in big trouble if they lose Game 2, as if they weren’t in enough trouble already. Time to back up all the talk, Indiana, or else you’re going to enjoy a long offseason of criticism, mocking and fishing.