What a game by the Atlanta Hawks tonight in their matchup against the Indiana Pacers. Atlanta came into the game needing a big win in order to maintain control of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, and it did exactly that in a monster performance on the road. The Pacers, who have been in a serious slump lately, suffered through another gruesome game on the offensive end.
A lot of the credit has to go to the Hawks on the defensive end to hold Indiana to only 88 points, but in reality, the Pacers were just plain awful on offense. They looked like a bunch who hadn’t played together all season or something because the product they put out their tonight was terrible. A number of players almost seemed to take this game for granted and didn’t even show up at all. Roy Hibbert, who is usually a dominant force on the inside, had the most disappointing game among all of the Indiana players.
Hibbert finished with an unbelievable zero points and zero rebounds on the night. Coach Frank Vogel disliked what he saw from his big man so much, he decided to bench him in the first half and never let him see the court again for the rest of the game. The seven-footer only played six minutes total, which allowed for the Hawks to take full advantage.
Pero Antic had one of his best performances of the year to help the Hawks defeat the Pacers in a must-win game. The Macedonian center scored a season-high 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field and also managed to pull down six rebounds. However, as great as Antic was, Jeff Teague stole the show. Teague led the team with 25 points and was the driving force behind the big night offensively for Atlanta. Whenever he gets his game going, it’s amazing how much better the Hawks play.
Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from Teague too. As things stand in the East, the Hawks currently hold a two-game lead over the New York Knicks for the No. 8 seed and they will need to deliver down the stretch in order to secure this final spot. This means the play of the Atlanta point guard becomes even more important to the success of the team. Teague has the potential to score over 20 points a game, but doesn’t always come out with the same aggressiveness every game.
If he decides to turn it up a notch as the season comes to the close, the Hawks should definitely make the playoffs. Teague can easily carry this team on his back, and he showed against the Pacers tonight that he’s more than capable of leading the way for Atlanta.