In a continuing and growing effort to show he’s one of the elite all-around players in the NBA, Paul George continues to lead the Indiana Pacers, this time without needing too much help from the free throw line, in a very successful start to the NBA Playoffs, putting up impressive numbers across the board while shutting down anyone who’s unlucky enough to be guarded by him throughout the game.
George finished with 27 points, this time hitting 11-21 from the field, which is rare for a player who struggled in the first game and throughout the season, hitting 41.9% of his shots and a terrible 32% during April. He tried to attack the basket a lot more than in the first game, and while the Hawks do have a pretty decent defense, they can’t withstand the physicality of the Pacers, bowing down too early and too easily once again, losing 113-98.
George added 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals, while continuing to keep anyone who has the misfortune to be guarded by him on lockdown. Players hounded by George are 6-20 from the field so far in the series, with Kyle Korver doing especially bad, going 2-8 with George watching him up close, not really letting him find his open way through the forest of screens that usually set him up with easy three point shots.
The Pacers in general were hot from beyond the arc, right from the start, which is supposed to be the Hawks’ specialty. They began the game with a 7-13 barrage from downtown, hitting 40% of their shots by the end of the day. George Hill was extremely efficient with 22 points and 4-7 from beyond the arc. He also hit a huge shot that turned into a four point play early in the fourth quarter, putting the game beyond doubt by creating a 16-point lead.
The Hawks didn’t shoot too bad in a much more offensive game than expected, by they turned the ball over four more times than the Pacers and were terrible from the line (only 55%) while shooting nine shots less than Indiana. After going to the paint often during the first half, they simply wore down against the size and tenacity of Indiana’s inside players, eventually settling for tough jumpers, leading to a much harder time keeping up the pace with the home team; the 113 points was the highest postseason total for the Pacers since a 120-87 rout over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals.
Looking at the shots from the line might explain the huge difference between the teams so far – Indiana is 51 of 63 from the line over the first two games. Atlanta is just 18 of 34. But the Pacers have been the much more aggressive team, pushing balls into Roy Hibbert (15 points, 9 rebounds), while the presence of Tyler Hansbrough, playing 23 minutes and adding 5 points and 6 rebounds while the team had a positive margin of 24 while he was on the court is doing a lot of things the stat sheets don’t tell of.
As of now, the Hawks are simply bullied into submission by a team that has more weapons to throw at them on both sides of the floor. Home court has something to do with it, no doubt, but the way the wind is blowing so far, it’s not going to change by much in Atlanta.