Indiana Pacers 95, Atlanta Hawks 88: Series tied, 3-3
The Indiana Pacers were able to stave off elimination with a strong run late in the game to defeat the Atlanta Hawks.
The Pacers once again came out sluggish. Despite the fact that it was an elimination game, they let Atlanta built up a 10-point lead in the first few minutes.
Then Pacers coach Frank Vogel did something he had steadfastly refused to do throughout this series...he pulled struggling center Roy Hibbert after just six minutes and didn't bring him back for the duration of the half.
Indiana went to a smaller lineup, which immediately paid dividends, as Indiana cut the deficit to two by the end of the first quarter.
With a second-quarter burst, the Pacers finally managed to go into halftime with a lead, 44-39. The Hawks simply could not connect from beyond the arc, shooting 5-of-22 from three in the first half.
During the halftime interview, George told the reporter: "We gotta go small."
Pacers coach Frank Vogel didn't agree, however, as the Pacers continued to play big throughout most of the second half. They simply replaced Hibbert (who played only 5:52 in the second half) with backup center Ian Mahinmi (who played 12:58, including the final few minutes of the game).
While the Hawks were able to build a four-point lead in the closing minutes, it was another Pacers big man, David West, who saved the day. The veteran power forward was magnificent down the stretch, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers' defense shut down Atlanta late.
Paul George, Pacers: 24 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST
Lance Stephenson, Pacers: 21 PTS, 9 REB
David West, Pacers: 24 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST
Paul Millsap, Hawks: 16 PTS, 18 REB, 5 AST
Jeff Teague, Hawks: 29 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST
The series finale will take place in Indiana on Saturday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
So this series is over, right? Atlanta had their shot to knock off the No. 1 seed at home, and they missed. There's no possible way they can win a Game 7 on the road.
Not so fast. Any team that relies on the three-point shot as heavily has the Hawks has a shot in any game. They were 9-of-35 from beyond the arc in Game 6, and still nearly pulled out the victory. If those shots start falling again, the Hawks will be a tough out.
This Game 7 might be affected by suspensions, as the Hawks' Mike Scott got into a scuffle with the Pacers' George Hill in the second quarter. Star forward Paul George appeared to take two steps off the bench, but Vogel is not concerned about a possible suspension, per the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner: "Vogel: 'I’m not concerned about any suspensions until we hear something.' But he followed with he doesn't expect a suspension."