Position by Position Matchup Guide for Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta Hawks

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Position by Position Matchup Guide for Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta Hawks
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The Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers began their best-of-seven series on Sunday, with the Pacers easily striking first blood in a 107-90 victory.

And while some may argue that this signifies a series that really isn't going to be very competitive, this round of the playoffs is far from over.

So going forward, which team is better lined up to win?

Let's take a look at each position on the floor and which team has the better squad.

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers.

 

Point Guard

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have a lot of depth throughout their team, but at the point guard position they are relatively thin.

George Hill is the starter and D.J. Augustin is his backup. Ben Hansbrough and a few others can play minutes in a pinch, but in all honesty these two guys are the only players likely to get minutes at the one in this series.

Hill is your classic overachiever. A four-year pro out of IUPUI, Hill came up through the San Antonio Spurs' system and learned how to play the game the right way backing up Tony Parker.

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He is not overly athletic, but he can shoot from deep (36.8 percent during the regular season) and is a solid distributor.

Most importantly, he fits the Pacers' system. He doesn't turn the ball over much and is a willing defender.

Augustin has had a somewhat disappointing career in that he was supposed to be the point guard of the future with the Charlotte Bobcats but was eventually ousted after uneven performances.

He is a quick player that lacks ideal size and has never developed into much of a shooter. He is a solid passer but lacks ideal point guard instincts. He also is a below average defender.

The key with the Pacers' point guards is avoiding making the big mistakes. Hill doesn't tend to have a huge effect on wins and losses. He is such a consistent player, he averages exactly the same amount of points (14.2) and relatively the same amount of assists (just over four) in wins and losses alike.

He does, however, shoot the ball better in wins, stroking 47 percent from the field instead of just under 41 percent.

Overall, the Pacers' point guards are not going to hurt their chances of winning, but they aren't typically going to be the reason for them either.

 

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks similarly run a two-deep point guard offense, with Shelvin Mack backing up Jeff Teague.

Teague has similar scoring numbers to Hill, but adds a much better distribution element to his game. Teague averages over seven assists per game. He also is a better athlete and is quicker than Hill.

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The one caveat is that he isn't quite as good of a perimeter shooter. However, he is improving this element of his game.

Teague also sees his numbers go up in wins, scoring 15.5 to go along with over eight assists versus just over 13 and six in losses.

Mack really doesn't add a whole lot to the mix; he is a pass-first point guard that struggles on offense to provide much more than bring the ball up the court.

Edge: Atlanta

 

Shooting guard

Indiana Pacers

Lance Stephenson and Orlando Johnson are the primary shooting guards for the Pacers, with Gerald Green and even Paul George sometimes getting minutes here when the team goes to a bigger lineup.

Stephenson is an excellent athlete with an NBA body. He is a solid defender, a good rebounder and an explosive leaper.

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He is an improving shooter, knocking down just over 33 percent of his three pointers this year.

He doesn't score a ton, averaging just over eight points per game, but he is incredibly quick and typically has a solid impact on the game.

He also is a much better player at home, scoring over 10 per game in Indianapolis versus just over seven everywhere else.

Johnson basically is a slightly smaller version of Stephenson but with a better shot. He doesn't play a ton of minutes, but can be counted on to nail threes.

 

Atlanta Hawks

Devin Harris, who basically has been a point guard his entire career, has been starting at the shooting guard spot for the Hawks this year.

Harris obviously has a better handle than most shooting guards, but he lacks ideal size and strength for the position.

He also isn't a great shooter at this point of his career, knocking down only about 33 percent of his triple tries.

The one aspect of his game that helps Atlanta is his ability to break down the defense and add another distributor from the wing.

Harris' primary backup is rookie John Jenkins, who has great range but is just an average athlete.

Edge: Indiana

 

Small forward

Indiana Pacers

Here is where we finally have a decided advantage for one team.

Perhaps the best player in this series is Paul George.

An elite athlete with tremendous ability to finish and score in a number of ways, George has firmly established himself as one of the best young wings in the game.

George is perhaps the best perimeter defender not named LeBron James and has improved nearly every aspect of his game, including his rebounding (over seven per game) and jump shot (36 percent from three).

George is a much better player in home games, scoring nearly four more points per game. He also is instrumental in wins, scoring better than 18 per game as opposed to just over 15 in losses.

He is without question the best player on this team and he proved it in game one by scoring 23 and providing a triple-double with 12 assists and 11 boards.

Green is his primary backup, and does his best to hold down the fort in George's absence.

He is a very good three-point shooter and one of the most explosive dunkers in the league. However, he is a disinterested defender and can be overpowered by bigger wings.

 

Atlanta Hawks

Kyle Korver and DeShawn Stevenson are the primary small forwards for Atlanta.

Korver is your classic floor-stretching catch-and-shoot small forward. He isn't a great athlete, isn't a great defender and usually won't put the ball on the floor.

He is a very one-dimensional player, but has carved out a niche in this league being very good at that one dimension.

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Stevenson is a big, athletic wing that has developed himself into a good perimeter shooter.

He is a better defender than Korver and usually sees his minutes expanded when Korver is struggling with his shot.

Neither one of these guys really does a ton more than shoot from deep.

Edge: Indiana

 

Power Forward

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers employ one of the best post-scoring power forwards in the league.

David West is your classic back-to-the-basket post scorer. He is a throwback to the age of post play when the big men were kings.

West is different from a lot of the Pacers in that he tends to play better on the road than he does at home, scoring more points and making a higher percentage of his shots.

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He is a very good rebounder and provides toughness down low.

West has never been known as an elite defender, but provides a big body that can punish down low.

His primary backup is Tyler Hansbrough.

Hansbrough is a typical high-motor big man. He tends to get under the skin of his opponents since he never takes plays off and only has one setting-intense.

Hansbrough continues to improve his offense, but his biggest contribution is in getting loose balls and throwing his body around.

 

Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith has been the face of the Hawks franchise for years.

Now whether or not that is a good thing is up in the air; most folks assume he will be walking away from the Hawks this summer.

Smith can stretch the defense from deep, has excellent strength and athleticism and is a very good defender that can get steals and provide blocks.

Smith's biggest obstacle to success is his own play. When he is motivated, he can be one of the best forwards in the game. But when he isn't into it, he can jack up terrible shots and sabotage his team's chances for success.

An excellent defensive rebounder, Smith generally hangs out on the perimeter on offense which usually cuts down on the amount of offensive rebounds he can pick up.

Smith doesn't seem to like to play at home nearly as much as he likes the road, scoring more points and hitting a higher percentage of threes away from Atlanta.

He is, however, the biggest deciding factor in wins versus losses for Atlanta, averaging three more points and two more rebounds win the Hawks win.

Smith's primary backup is Ivan Johnson, who is a barrel-chested big man who provides rebounds and interior toughness.

Edge: Atlanta (slightly)

 

Center

Indiana Pacers

Heading into this year, Roy Hibbert was viewed as one of the last remaining true centers in the game. He is huge (7'2", 280) and can take up a ton of space down low.

An elite shot-blocker, Hibbert provides good rebounding and interior defense.

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The biggest problem with Hibbert's game is that he has never developed a consistent offensive game.

Against shorter centers, Hibbert can simply overpower, but he lacks great quickness or post moves.

The one caveat is that Hibbert is much better in wins than he is in losses, averaging almost six more points per game win the Pacers pull out the victory.

Teams with athletic, quick centers can generally run Hibbert out of the gym and then do their best to take their chances on the other end.

Hibbert's primary backup is Jeff Pendergrath who provides another live body and solid defense. He isn't a great scorer, but then again he isn't asked to be one.

 

Atlanta Hawks

Al Horford has slowly turned himself into one of the best centers in the league.

Horford is an excellent athlete, elite rebounder and low-post defender.

Horford has improved his mid-range jumper and is now effective out to about 18 feet.

Perfectly built for the pick-and-roll game, Horford has fantastic quickness and athleticism for a guy his size.

Horford shoots a high percentage around the hoop, and while he isn't an elite shot-blocker, he can get lose balls and steals on occasion.

At this point of his career, the only knock on Horford's game is that he isn't a couple inches taller.

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His primary backup is Zaza Pachulia, a bruiser who loves to throw his body around and grabs rebounds but does little more than that.

Edge: Atlanta

Overall Edge: Indiana

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