In a series with all five games decided in favor of the home team by quite a distance, game 5 was no different for the Indiana Pacers, finally getting what they need from David West, while Paul George focused on doing the right thing instead of trying to score, regardless of the situation.
The Pacers beat the Hawks 106-83, making it 3-2 before heading back to Atlanta, where they’ve lost twice by double digits, hoping that little bit of the atmosphere and tenacity they played with in Game 5 sticks with them on the ride down south. They allowed the Hawks only 28 rebounds, while limiting them to 33.3% from the field. Atlanta can’t be that bad a second straight game, but the Pacers have to start bringing their superior defense to the road. They’re also averaging over 30 points more at home (108.7-80) and shooting 15% better from the floor (47.4-32.7) and from beyond the arc (38.1-22.9).
David West has been praised more than once about being the real secret to success on a very young team that lost Danny Granger somewhere along the way, and get West for their veteran leader, doing more than just score or set up assists from the post by passing. West saw the Pacers get off to another bad start, falling behind early in the first quarter. So he scored 12 points out of his total of 24 in the second quarter, and the rest was easy.
Paul George had one of his more efficient games of his young career, going only 7-8 from the field, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Frank Vogel understood that the rotations he was using in games 3-4 weren’t going well, with the Hawks trying to go big at every opportunity. So while West went back to his more comfortable ways of scoring (backing down defenders and spinning away), Vogel shortened rotations and didn’t let his second unit step on the court without some quality from the rest. Young men don’t need that much rest anyway, and by building the great lead could afford resting them in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers took good shots, and stayed away from the paint. Both teams combined to score just 64 from the inside, as the Pacers understood they’re not going to score against two centers. They simply gave Hibbert the ball fewer than before, and let George Hill create chances for open men along with West by driving and inside and kicking it back, which worked quite well as the Pacers hit 50.7% of their shots.
Things look completely different in Atlanta for the Pacers, losing 13 straight there, but it’s time to grow up for this unit. They’re younger, a bit, but they are a better team, there’s no doubt about that. If they just stop trying to force things they’re not really good at, which means a bit more handle on the reins from Vogel himself, and playing in Georgia shouldn’t be as fearsome as it has turned out to be.