The Indiana Pacers knew that game two against the Atlanta Hawks was the biggest game that they’ve played all year. Win and they were still in the series with hope of righting their many issues. Lose and they could be on the fast-track to a first-round exit from the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Paul George seemed to realize this more than anyone.
George ceased control of the contest in every way possible, particularly in the third quarter in second half. When all was said and done, though, the young All-Star forward had played 39 minutes and put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, four steals and one block while shooting 9-16 from the floor, 5-7 from three and turning the ball over just once. As is often the case in the postseason, the team’s star guided them to a pivotal victory.
Just as much as George’s contributions helped the Pacers to a big win, so did the play of Luis Scola and C.J. Watson off of the bench. Scola came in and put up 20 points and seven rebounds on 9-14 shooting in just 19 minutes. Watson wasn’t quite as impressive, but his 10 points, five boards, two dimes and two thefts were also big in Indiana saving face on their home court.
Even with a win under their belt and a big game from George and their bench to show for it, it’s still hard to feel completely confident in this Pacers team. There are still a plethora of things that, when you watch this team, are concerning in regards to them moving forward in the postseason and even this series.
While George Hill played arguably the best that he has in quite a while on Tuesday, David West and Roy Hibbert continued to be afterthoughts in terms of their impact and production. Moreover, Lance Stephenson dialed back from the 18 shots he took in game one, but seemed to do so too much as he finished with just seven points on six shot attempts.
There are still a lot of things that the Pacers have to be worried about fixing both offensively and on the glass, which seems pretty evident. What might get overlooked, though, is the fact that the Hawks simply weren’t hitting shots in the second half when Indiana pulled away. While the Pacers deserve some credit for that, there were numerous occasions when it was good or decent looks that just weren’t going down for Atlanta. That’s not exactly something Indiana should be banking on moving forward, particularly with how the Hawks move the ball to get open looks.
Make no mistake: the Pacers looked better and more engaged than they have in a while on Tuesday night and the win keeps their pulse in the playoffs from flat-lining. However, we shouldn’t act like all of the problems have been whisked away into oblivion after one game. Indiana could very well be putting the pieces back together, but they’re going to have to play at a high-level consistently going forward in this series before I’m placing any bets on them.