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Grading Every Atlanta Hawks Player's First-Round Performance so Far

Joe WirthContributor IIIApril 30, 2013

Grading Every Atlanta Hawks Player's First-Round Performance so Far

1 of 10

    After struggling in the first two games of the series, the Atlanta Hawks held serve on their home court and have tied the series with the Pacers at two games apiece.

    This turnaround can be attributed to home-court advantage, but in the last two games, the Hawks' success has been predicated on their improvement on the defensive end.

    After giving up an average of 110 points to the Pacers in the first two games, the Hawks cranked up their effort and execution on defense and held Indiana to just 80 points per game in Atlanta.

    With a critical Game 5 on Wednesday, the series is far from over, but let’s take a look at how the individuals on the team have fared so far in the playoffs.

Al Horford

2 of 10

    After averaging just 13.5 points per game in the two road contests to open up the series, Horford turned his game around when the Hawks returned home for Games 3 and 4.

    In Game 3, Horford exploded with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Every game in the playoffs is a must-win, but being down 0-2, the Hawks were playing for their season in Game 3, and Horford put the team on his back and refused to let them fail.

    Horford backed up his Game 3 performance with another solid output in Game 4 with 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Game 4's performance did not match his production in Game 3, but it was enough to complement Josh Smith's outstanding game and lead the Hawks to the win.

    Considering the talent of Indiana's frontcourt, the Hawks need Horford to continue his good play for the remainder of the series.

    It is now a best-of-three scenario, and whichever team wins the battle of the bigs will have the upper hand in the series.

    Grade: A-

Josh Smith

3 of 10

    Smith struggled in Game 1 of the series but bounced back to have a solid performance in Game 2. He scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting in only 20 minutes of action (his minutes were limited because of a bothersome ankle).

    Like Horford, Smith cranked up his game once the series came to Atlanta. Smith not only excelled on the offensive end, but he also played great defense against Pacers' star Paul George.

    George averaged 25 points over the first two games of the series, but he was held to 16 points and shot 4-of-11 from the field in Game 3. Although George managed to score 21 points in Game 4, Smith held him to 6-of-16 shooting from the field.

    Smith scored just 14 points in Game 3, but had six rebounds and a few highlight-reel passes among his six assists.

    Game 4 was when Smith really stepped up. He scored 29 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out four assists and had three steals in one of the best performances of his playoff career.

    With each passing game, the intensity and pressure will ratchet up, and the Hawks will need continued great performances by Smith if they are to upset the Pacers and win the series.

    Grade: B+

Jeff Teague

4 of 10

    Jeff Teague was one of the few Hawks who played well in the first two games of the series in Indiana.

    He led the Hawks in scoring in Game 1 with 21 points and was a catalyst for the offense with seven assists. Teague also played well in Game 2 with 16 points and five assists.

    His offense was solid, but it was his defensive effort that needed improvement. Teague was matched up against Pacers point guard George Hill for most of the first two games, and Hill shredded Teague.

    In the first two games, Hill averaged 20 points and had a +/- of over 19 in each game.

    That changed once the series shifted to Atlanta. In Game 3, Teague held Hill in check with three points on 1-of-8 shooting.  In Game 4, Hill scored 12 points with Teague holding him to 26 percent shooting, including 0-of-6 from three-point range.

    Teague's offensive game struggled in Atlanta, but if he can maintain his solid defense and limit Hill's production, the Hawks could be bound for the second round.

    Grade: B

Devin Harris

5 of 10

    Although Harris has not provided tremendous offensive production so far in the series, his presence on the floor has given the Hawks a lift.

    Harris is averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in the playoffs so far. He is also one of the leading +/- players for the Hawks, posting a +12 in Game 3 and a +22 in Game 4 despite only scoring eight points in each contest.

    Harris is one of the few players on Atlanta's roster with previous playoff success, and the team will depend on his experience as their postseason continues.

    Everyone expects the Hawks to get solid production from Teague, Smith and Horford. If Harris can provide Atlanta with a consistent fourth scorer, they will have a tremendous advantage.

    Grade: B

Kyle Korver

6 of 10

    Coach Larry Drew shook up Atlanta's starting lineup prior to Game 3, replacing Kyle Korver with Johan Petro to give them more size.  Judging by Atlanta's victories in Games 3 and 4, the change seemed to have worked.

    Korver is averaging 9.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the series, but he really made his mark in Game 4 by coming off the bench to score 19 points, equaling the output of the entire Pacers' bench. 

    He was 7-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-8 from outside the arc, once again proving that he is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA.

    His production off of the bench put Atlanta over the top and sent the series back to Indiana tied 2-2.

    Grade: B+

Ivan Johnson

7 of 10

    Johnson provides some much-needed depth in the frontcourt for the Hawks as they battle one of the best collections of big men in the league.

    Johnson is averaging 5.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Although his numbers may be underwhelming, he sets a physical tone for the Hawks and gives them a gritty attitude that has been absent from the team's previous playoff appearances.

    As coach Larry Drew told the Chicago Sun-Times, what Johnson lacks in production, he more than makes up for with effort and tenacity.

    If Atlanta is to advance to the next round, Johnson must continue to be physical with Indiana's frontcourt.

    Grade: B

Johan Petro

8 of 10

    Petro was inserted into the starting lineup before Game 3 to compete with against Indiana's powerful front line. Although his minutes have been relatively small, his presence has given the Hawks the ability to match up with Indiana's size.

    Petro is averaging 5 points and 3.5 rebounds in just over 15 minutes of action per game.

    As Al Horford told the Chicago Sun-Times, Petro's presence in the starting lineup has opened up the Hawks offense and made them more formidable on the defensive end.

    “The whole thing helped us size-wise,” Horford said. “We were able to get Petro in there, which made an impact on Hibbert. Then Ivan came in and did the same. They freed me up to get more offensive minded. It just goes hand in hand.”

    Drew will most likely continue with Petro in the starting lineup.  If the Pacers are unable to adjust accordingly, expect the Hawks to have continued success.

    Grade: B+

Anthony Tolliver

9 of 10

    Anthony Tolliver is averaging 5.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game and was relatively quiet during the first three games of the series.  However, he showed up in a big way in Game 4.

    Like Korver, Tolliver came off the bench to give the Hawks much-needed production in a hotly contested game.

    Tolliver played 21 minutes, recorded three rebounds and hit three big shots from behind the arc to give him a total of nine points for the game.

    Every team has superstars, but the teams that have success in the postseason are the ones that can maintain production while the key players are on the bench.

    If the Hawks can continue to get production from players like Tolliver, they will be a threat; not just to the Pacers, but to the entire Eastern Conference.

    Grade: B-

DeShawn Stevenson

10 of 10

    Stevenson is averaging three points and 3.3 rebounds per game in this series. Whether it is because of injuries or diminishing skills, the 12-year veteran had limited contributions in the regular season, and his lack of production has continued this postseason.

    With the Hawks needing solid contributions from their bench to be successful, Stevenson only played one minute combined in Games 3 and 4.

    Atlanta is not counting on production from him, but any contributions they can get will be a bonus.

     

    Grade: D

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