David Looks to Take Down Goliath, as Hawks Face Pacers
By Vershawne Pennyamon | 4/17/2014, 11:56 a.m.
The playoff carnival for the NBA is here--prepare for a joy ride.
The no.8 seed Atlanta Hawks face the top-seeded Indiana Pacers in the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Game one and two will be played in Indiana, while games three and four are in Atlanta.
Hawks and Pacers split their season series (2-2), with the most recent game being a laughingstock as the Hawks blew out the Pacers 107-88.
But the postseason is different.
The Pacers come into this showdown not looking their best, as Paul George and Roy Hibbert have struggled mightily. Whereas the Hawks ended their season on a high note, led by point guard Jeff Teague, who recently earned a player of the week honor.
The Pacers frontline of David West and the struggling Roy Hibbert should be a major factor against the Hawks. West game has risen dramatically toward the end of the season. And the vet has a pep in his step. West is a brute force in the hole, providing a tough task for the Hawks' Paul Millsap.
Meanwhile, the 7-foot-2 All-star center Hibbert has a non-factor lately. In the teams' last meeting, he was benched at halftime versus the Hawks, after his team fell behind 55-23. Although, Hibbert looks to get back on track and he should have an advantage over the smaller Hawks' big men (i.e. Elton Brand, Pero Antic, and Mike Muscala).
The Hawks guard play could lead toward an upset, as Jeff Teague and Lou Williams are ending off the season very hot. Teague and Williams have multiple 20 point games each and they're game-changers, with the talent to takeover any game in the final seconds.
Teague should easily take advantage of the Pacers' point guard George Hill. Teague has strength, size, and the ability to create his own shot. He should use his size to take Hill to the hole, allowing him to rack up points.
But outside of the PG play, it's Must-see PG himself that holds the swing of this series in the palm of his hand, as the Pacers' Paul George will be taking on all Hawks' forwards...offensively and defensively. So, Demarre Carroll must bring that lockdown tenacity he brought against LeBron James, in the Hawks' regular season series finale versus the Heat.
Otherwise, Indiana will make short work of Atlanta.
If the Hawks look to defeat the Pacers in this series, winning game one or two at the FieldHouse is pivotal. The Pacers are a defensive-minded team and the Hawks have an explosive offense that can heat up very quickly. So, this series comes down to which team will impose its will the most.
A no. 8 team beating the no. 1 team would give Atlanta something to cheer about. In contrast, the no. 1 team winning as expected would cap off another early postseason exit for the Hawks' franchise. Regardless of the results, this series will be exciting and should end within six games.
Atlanta Hawks versus Indiana Pacers
NBA Playoffs, Eastern Conference, Game 1
Saturday, April 19, 7 p.m. on ESPN
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Game 2 - 7 p.m. Tue, Apr 22; Hawks @ Pacers
Game 3 - 7 p.m. Thu, Apr 24; Pacers @ Hawks
Game 4 - 2 p.m. Sat, Apr 26; Pacers @ Hawks
Game 5 - 8 p.m. Mon, Apr 28; Hawks @ Pacers
Game 6 - TBD Thu, May 1; Pacers @ Hawks
Game 7 - TBD Sat, May 3; Hawks @ Pacers