The 2013 NBA playoffs continue to take shape. The Indiana Pacers defeated the Atlanta Hawks by a score of 81-73 in Game 6 of their first-round series. In turn, the Pacers will advance to play the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
So how did it all go down in Atlanta?
This was nothing short of an ugly game, as neither team managed to score the ball at a high clip. The Pacers shot a respectable 42.1 percent from the field but converted just 3-of-15 from beyond the arc and 14-of-21 from the free-throw line.
Atlanta was even worse, going 33.3 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from distance on 19 attempts.
When the dust settled and the game came to an end, however, it was the Pacers who outlasted a furious fourth-quarter rally by Atlanta. As a result, Indiana will rekindle its long-lasting rivalry with the hated Knicks.
The Pacers only reached that level after a hard-fought victory over a rugged Atlanta squad.
George Hill, Indiana Pacers: A
George Hill never seems to post the flashiest numbers, but he always manages to make his mark on a game. Tonight was a bit of an anomaly in that sense, as Hill finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals on 7-of-14 shooting.
While a majority of the players involved in this one struggled, Hill stepped up for a superb offensive output.
Hill did most of his damage in the third quarter, scoring 12 points as Atlanta began its comeback push. That includes a huge three-pointer that Hill made just seconds after Kyle Korver made three free throws to bring the Atlanta Hawks to within 14 points.
That may seem like a lot, but that was a key moment in Atlanta's failed comeback bid.
As for why Hill's grade takes a hit, coughing up four turnovers and missing two free throws hurts. But on a night in which few, if any, were at their best, Hill was beyond effective.
Without his contributions, there's a strong possibility that Indiana would have lost this game.
Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks: D+
On a night when the Atlanta Hawks were fighting for their lives, point guard Jeff Teague was nowhere to be found. He finished with 10 points, two assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block, but he did so on 3-of-12 shooting.
Most importantly, Teague called his own number far too often on a night in which the Hawks needed to move the ball.
The Hawks struggled to make shots tonight, converting just 33.3 percent from the field and consistently falling into isolation play. This resulted in a dismal second quarter and a not-good-enough rest of the game.
Teague didn't turn the ball over too often and made defensive plays, but making plays and making stops are two completely different things. With George Hill going off, it's clear Teague failed to do the latter.
Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers: A-
Lance Stephenson only attempted five field goals, but he made his mark on this game in a major way. With eight points, 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal and one of Indiana's three total three-pointers, the numbers speak volumes to that.
And beyond the stat sheet, Stephenson was sensational.
Devin Harris came alive during the fourth quarter, but that was a case of too little too late. For a majority of this game, Stephenson held Harris in check, closing off driving lanes and forcing him into long jump shots.
Stephenson was also the Pacers' key facilitator and dominated the glass.
Stephenson suffered a scare during the third quarter, as his leg buckled and he was helped to the locker room. Shortly thereafter, Stephenson returned to the game and made a key steal that temporarily halted Atlanta's momentum.
This was yet another example of a player going beyond the stat sheet to dominate a game.
Devin Harris, Atlanta Hawks: C
Devin Harris struggled for a majority of this game but nearly made up for his early woes with a fourth-quarter flurry. With a beautiful around-the-opponent's-back assist to Josh Smith and a series of drives resulting in scores, Harris was beyond effective.
Unfortunately, Harris fouled out and his 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals were complemented by 5-of-14 shooting.
Harris shot 2-of-7 from beyond the arc, with fell right into Atlanta's shooting woes. Although Atlanta struggled by falling into individual offensive sets, Harris did stand out during the second half of the game.
The early woes were simply too much to overcome.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers: C-
Diehard Indiana Pacers fans will defend Paul George at every turn, but his level of play was less than ideal tonight. Not only did he shoot 2-of-10 from the field, but when the shots weren't falling, he fell in love with the three-ball.
Going 0-of-5 from beyond the arc is a testament to that.
George finished with four points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block. That well-rounded stat sheet was beyond helpful to an Indiana team that needed any and all offensive production possible, but it wasn't what you expect from a star.
If the Pacers are to advance past the New York Knicks, George cannot be held to four points in any game.
Fortunately, George did play quality defense on Josh Smith for a majority of this game. With that being said, the 2013 Most Improved Player of the Year was also bailed out by Smith falling in love with his jump shot.
This was far from George's finest hour.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks: C
For the first 32 minutes or so, Josh Smith was absolutely horrendous. He started the game off with a 23-foot two-point jump shot and continued to chuck up those shots, no matter how inconsistently they fell.
Fortunately for the Hawks, J-Smoove came to life in the final 15 minutes of the game. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
Still, shutting down Paul George defensively certainly doesn't hurt his stock as a free agent.
Smith finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one block and a steal on 5-of-16 shooting. Smith also missed all three of his three-point attempts and committed four turnovers.
With that being said, Smith took care of the ball during the second half and made a series of key shots. That includes a beautiful sky hook that brought the Hawks within four points.
Smith put up a dud but saved himself slightly with a quality fourth-quarter performance.
David West, Indiana Pacers: A
David West is often overlooked when we're talking about the elite power forwards of the NBA. The fact of the matter is, West has been the Pacers' go-to scorer during clutch situations all season long.
Tonight, he stepped up once again.
West finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists and four blocks. He led all players in scoring and in blocked shots.
Most importantly, West scored 17 of those 21 points during the second half.
When a shot would go up and come off the rim, West was there to clean it up and finish. West also killed the Hawks with his gorgeous step-back jumper, for which the Hawks had no answer.
This was yet another dominant performance by Indiana's offensive leader.
Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: B+
Al Horford was one of the few Atlanta Hawks players to put on a quality offensive performance. Not only did he convert 50 percent of his field goals, but he managed to drain mid-range jumps shots when no one else could.
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to match David West's hot shooting.
Horford finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. He scored seven of those points during the fourth quarter, converting jump shots and taking it inside as he led Atlanta on a comeback run.
Horford is hardly to blame during a game in which Atlanta scored nine second-quarter points.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers: A+
There is no way around it—Roy Hibbert was the best player on the floor tonight.
We can talk all we want about who closed out the game, but the Indiana Pacers won this because of Hibbert's contributions. While the rest of the field struggled to make anything, Hibbert seemed to make everything he put up.
From deep hook shots to a gorgeous up-and-under dunk, Hibbert did it all.
For the game, he finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks on 8-of-14 shooting. That includes three offensive boards, which helped Indiana set the tone and take the air out of Philips Arena.
To put it simply, Hibbert did everything and more.
Johan Petro, Atlanta Hawks: C-
Johan Petro was tasked with defending Roy Hibbert, and he failed miserably. Not only did Hibbert dominate the offensive end of the floor, but Petro made just two of his six field-goal attempts.
Even with four points, six rebounds and a block in 21 minutes, Petro failed to contribute as expected.
There wasn't anything Petro was glaringly terrible at, but he failed to provide a quality defensive presence. Whether Hibbert was blowing by him out of the post or raising over him, there was minimal resistance.
When no one's scoring but your man, you know who to look to.
D.J. Augustin, Indiana Pacers: C-
D.J. Augustin was close to a failing grade, as he was just 1-of-6 from the field and failed to dish out a single assist. With three rebounds and two steals, however, he saves himself.
After all, no one was making their shots.
Augustin managed to create plays while on the floor, even when he wasn't assisting them. Drawing his man away helped open up the interior for players such as David West and Roy Hibbert.
It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't terrible.
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: F
What in the world happened to Kyle Korver in Game 6?
Korver was 3-of-11 from the field and a stunning 0-of-7 from beyond the arc. Even with 12 points, four rebounds, an assist and one block, Korver failed to serve his No. 1 purpose for the Hawks.
On a night in which nothing Atlanta put up seemed to fall, its top sharpshooter was just as much of the problem as anyone else.
Even when Korver sank a mid-range J late, he threw up an ill-advised fading three later in the fourth quarter. That proved to be the end of Atlanta's momentum.
When one of the best shooters in NBA history goes this cold, there are no words to describe the shock.
Indiana Pacers: C
There's not too much to say about either of these two benches, as the starters dominated the minutes and reserves failed to contribute much.
Tyler Hansbrough played valuable first-half minutes, getting to the line at will. Although he did miss two of those free throws, Hansbrough went a long way towards damaging Atlanta's interior by getting to the line six times.
Other than that, it was Ian Mahinmi's usual defensive presence and Jeff Pendergraph making a great second-chance bucket to help secure Indiana's win late.
Atlanta Hawks: C-
The Atlanta Hawks' second unit failed to step up in an ideal manner, as Ivan Johnson and Kyle Korver were the only players to make a shot. Combining to go 5-of-18 as a team certainly doesn't help when the starters struggled so badly.
There wasn't much of a drop-off from starters to reserves, but that's not a good thing when Atlanta played this poorly.
Johnson's energy is always welcome, as his aggressiveness down low is refreshing. Unfortunately, the production just wasn't there for anyone when it mattered.