The deeper we got into the fourth quarter, the closer we seemed to be to the end of a season for the Indiana Pacers and a sensational upset by the Atlanta Hawks. But then the defense started working, and David West put on his superstar suit, leading us to a game 7 following a 95-88 win.
The Hawks were in the lead going into the final quarter, and held that lead with just over three minutes left in the game, going up 84-79. But then something strange happened. The Pacers remembered they used to be the best defensive team in the NBA. David West started dominating Paul Millsap on the other side as they went on a 16-4 run. Paul George came up with a huge steal off of a stupid Lou Williams pass. Everything fell into place all of a sudden.
We still had Roy Hibbert sulking on the bench after another pathetic effort. Frank Vogel hasn’t given up on him yet, but maybe it’s time to. Larry Bird looked unhappy in the stands. All the ingredients in the recipe that spells disaster. Yet this team has an extra gear, a something special in at least two of their players that wouldn’t let it end this way. Now it’s a game seven, and even though the Hawks have looked like the better team in this series, you can’t actually feel too confident about them pulling through.
Did David West save the day, and the season? Pretty much. He scored 12 of his 24 points in the final quarter, making 5-of-6 from the field, while the rest of his teammates were only 4-of-12. His average shooting distance was more than five feet closer in the fourth quarter. The Pacers tried different lineups throughout the game, and finally something looked to work, and it seems that throwing Hibbert under the bus might be the most reasonable option for them dealing with his disappearance.
Paul George also scored 24 points. Despite the team under performing, this has been a very good series for him. He struggled with his outside shot (only 1-of-6) but was there on both ends of the floor when his team turned to him on most occasions, and if it wasn’t for his earlier scoring, West might not have had the opportunity to close out the game like he did. Lance Stephenson was on his better behavior, scoring 21 points.
Jeff Teague was great scoring 29 points, but the Pacers took away the 3-point shot from the Hawks, or at least the open ones. It didn’t stop Atlanta from trying, finishing with 9-of-35 from beyond the arc. Paul Millsap didn’t have his way against a smaller Indiana lineup, scoring 16 points on 4-of-13 from the field. Kyle Korver had only 9 points on 3-of-8 from beyond the arc. The Hawks don’t have too many ways of winning games, and whatever they needed didn’t work late in this one.
It’s funny who one game changes perceptions. This is still an Indiana Pacers team that everyone feels is disappointing, but the bottom line always matters more than anything else. The Pacers have a game 7 at home. They should start feeling confident, because at some point Vogel is going to understand that he isn’t getting anything more from Hibbert (0 points, 2 rebounds), and the Hawks historically are pathetic when it comes to playing a game 7 on the road.