It certainly wasn't the prettiest way to get the job done, but the Indiana Pacers are moving on to Round 2 of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Utilizing their patented suffocating defense, the Pacers defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 81-73, at Philips Arena on Friday. The win gives Indiana a 4-2 victory in the teams' best-of-seven first-round series.
George Hill and David West both led the way for the Pacers, each scoring a game-high 21 points. Hill was Indiana's only mainstay on the outside, knocking down two three-pointers on a night where his team went just 3-of-15 from distance.
The triumph also came despite a dreadful offensive evening from star Paul George. The first-time All-Star scored just four points on 2-of-10 shooting, including a 0-of-5 performance from distance. Though George added seven assists and seven rebounds, Friday marked the fourth time in six contests he had shot below 40 percent.
On the Atlanta side of things, star Josh Smith turned in a disappointing performance of his own. The forward finished with only 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting and nine rebounds in what may be his final game as a Hawk. Smith becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and faced countless trade rumors prior to this year's deadline.
And Smith's fate isn't the only one up in the air. Atlanta has a roster full of expiring contacts, which puts them as one of the more intriguing teams to watch heading into this summer.
Meanwhile, the Pacers will move on to face the New York Knicks, who defeated the Boston Celtics on Friday to move on to Round 2.
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