The Indiana Pacers came into the playoffs as the third-best team in the Eastern Conference—in terms of record. After trouncing the Atlanta Hawks in the first two games at home, they lost by a total of 32 points in the two losses on the road.
They bounced back and made a statement in Game 5 and won by 23 points, but they will need more than just their home-court advantage to close out this series.
Game 6 will be the most important game of this series for the Pacers, because it's a must-win game.
Not only have the Pacers yet to win a game on the road, but they do not want to go to a Game 7 against a team that many expected they would easily dispatch.
If the Pacers want to have a long playoff run, they must find a way to win games on the road. Even if they lose Game 6 in Atlanta, they would still have a chance to close out the series at home in Game 7.
But do they really want to risk going into a Game 7? Not only will all of the pressure be on the Pacers in Game 7, but the Hawks have a chance to play extremely well for one game and steal the series.
Anything could happen in a Game 7, and any player has a chance of getting hot and going on a shooting streak. The Hawks have a handful of players who could explode at any given time and cause havoc for any opposing team's defense.
Josh Smith and Al Horford are the primary names that fall into this category, but guys like Kyle Korver could put together an exceptional shooting performance and become the x-factor in this series.
Not only will winning Game 6 remove the necessary risks losing Game 7 at a home, but it will also prove to the Pacers faithful that they could actually win on the road. They might not need to win on the road to close out the series, but they will need to in the future rounds.
The importance of this upcoming game isn't anything to joke around about, and the Pacers could find themselves in danger if the series extends to seven games.