Apr 22, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) reacts after making a defensive play against the Atlanta Hawks in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Atlanta 101-85. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

How Can the Indiana Pacers Sustain Their Momentum?

There are definitely some good things to take away from the Indiana Pacers’ victory last night to even this first round playoff series.  Paul George stepped it up in the third quarter to get going.  Luis Scola brought his jumper back with him on his way to 20 points.  CJ Watson looked very solid out there playing a good portion of that second half.  Ian Mahinmi played well enough to earn him some long minutes in the second half.  The Pacers, as a group, held the Hawks to thirteen points in the third quarter and only a basket for some minutes in the fourth quarter.

All good things that you hope this team can sustain through the next game.  You won’t have to wait long to find that out as the teams face off in game three on Thursday, game four on Saturday, and game five next Monday.  I think the Pacers can go into that mindset of one game at a time as you just know how much momentum can shift game from game, but I hope they carry that do or die attitude from yesterday’s second half into game three.

How will they get the job done?

1.  Roy Hibbert and George Hill Have to Stay Aggressive

George Hill did look to finally get his game moving a bit in that second half as he shifted over to the two guard position.  If the Pacers play more of that and Hill can stay aggressive, then by all means, keep it going. I also look at Roy Hibbert, who did miss some easy shots, but was still looking to get to the basket.  That’s what he needs to continue to do.  The Pacers might not give him all those touches he wants, but I think at the start of the game, you feed him the ball and see what he can get going.  If that doesn’t happen, then you put in Ian Mahinmi and let him work what he can.

I’m not too concerned about the other starters as I think Paul George has found his stride in this series.  Lance Stephenson is such an up and down player, it’s hard to predict what game he will break out, but you feel like he’ll be due one. I think David West will take a more aggressive approach as the Pacers look to really carry over from the last game. I could see him coming out strong in game three to get some points of his own.

2.  Ride the Bench

Just like last night, if starters aren’t performing, then give more touches to Luis Scola, who hopefully can keep his jumper alive.  Let CJ Watson out there and have George Hill play the two guard that he keeps talking about how much more comfortable he is there.

Let Ian Mahinmi out there for some minutes and see if Roy Hibbert can find his game.  I think Vogel’s approach to always keeping a starter out there might just need to happen for the rest of this series for the Pacers to get the win.

3.  Defense, Defense, Defense

We saw that everyone was stepping up in that third quarter to hold the Hawks down.  Guys were getting their hands on the ball and even getting jump balls, diving on loose balls, communicating, all those things that have made the Pacers the defensive team.  That has to continue. We all know it starts on the defensive end for this team, if they can hold down the Hawks under 95, then I feel good about the prospects of a Pacers’ win.

4.  One Play at a Time

I thought in game one, too many plays were spent trying to do it all when you’re behind.  The Pacers need to settle into their offense, if that can finally get going.  They need to play aggressive defense like we saw last night.  All those little things of the hustle variety need to happen.  If you miss a shot, get down the court and play defense. If there’s a bad call, move on, and quit chirping at the refs.  All those things that should be simple to do is what the Pacers need to do to pick up the win in game three.

Tags: Indiana Pacers

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