The Indiana Pacers put many doubts and questions to rest Saturday afternoon. The Pacers pulled off a convincing win against the Atlanta Hawks to take the playoff series.
Indiana once again looked like the team that was so dominant for much of the season in the 92-80 victory. The Pacers led most of the way, and had chances to put game seven away early but could never land a death blow.
Paul George played the role of series closer for the Pacers. George returned to superstar status with his sixth double-double of the opening round. He finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds. George also had three assists and a pair of steals.
He had a very efficient shooting night, until he started jacking up three pointers in the final minutes of play. He also recorded 43 minutes as coach Frank Vogel nearly ran all the starters to death. George Hill and David West also recorded over 40 minutes on the court.
This game might have signaled the return of Roy Hibbert. The 7-2 center had 13 points off 60-percent shooting and hauled in seven rebounds. More importantly, Hibbert returned to the dominant post defender, blocking five shots and forcing Hawks shooters to alter at least a dozen more.
Speaking of the Hawks shooting, it was atrocious. The Pacers lockdown defense held Atlanta to just 30-percent shooting. Even worse, the Hawks were just 25-percent from the three-point line.
Equally dominant was the Pacers rebounding advantage. Indiana held a 55-38 advantage on the glass. The Hawks took 92 shots and hit just 28 of them, the Pacers cleaned up the vast majority of their misses. The Hawks did manage to set a record for most three-pointers taken in a playoff game at 44.
David West, who was so important down the stretch in game six, failed to give the Pacers much at the offensive end of the court. He was just 1-for-7 from the field for four points and turned the ball over six times.
While West wasn’t very effective on the offense, he was dominant at the other end of the court. West recorded 13 rebounds, two steals, and six blocks.
Lance Stephenson could have easily been the MVP of the final game. Stephenson also recorded a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. He was a monster on the glass, frequently taking easy rebounds away from the Hawks.
Stephenson was also extremely efficient, connecting on 8-of-12 shots. He also managed to dish out five assists, a few of which bordered on the impossible.
George Hill didn’t have a great shooting night, just 3-for-10 and no three-pointers, but he played a solid game across the board. Hill finished with 15 points, going 9-for-9 from the free throw line. He came away with five rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals.
The Pacers defense also managed to be stifling without fouling. The Hawks went to the free throw line just 16 times, the lowest of the series. Without an outside shot and unable to get to the line, the Hawks really stood no chance Saturday.
The Pacers advance to face the Washington Wizards in the Semi-Final round of the playoffs. The Pacers won the regular season series 2-1, with every game being very one sided in favor of the victor. Game One will be Monday on TNT, tip off has not yet been announced (probably between 7PM and 8PM).