Just when the season looked lost, the Indiana Pacers pulled off a big win on the road. Indiana escaped Philips Arena with a 91-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks behind some clutch 3-pointers from David West and Paul George. Now, the Hawks will look to answer with a huge win of their own at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday.
However, the only way they are going to pull off that feat is if Atlanta gets a total team effort.
This means everybody from the bench to the starters needs to bring their A-game to the floor come game time. The Hawks know what they will get from their two stars, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, but it’s the rest of the bunch they are waiting on to provide some more help.
Two players in particular who Atlanta will be expecting to step up are Pero Antic and DeMarre Carroll. Both have been fairly inconsistent in the first round so far and need to bounce back in a big way if Atlanta wants to beat the Pacers on their home court.
Since Game 1, Antic really hasn’t been as much of a factor at all. He’s gone a combined 1-for-12 from the 3-point line in the last three games, which is the complete opposite of what coach Mike Budenholzer wants to see. When Antic is hitting 3-pointers, it keeps the Pacers’ defense on their toes and forces their big men to respect the outside shot of the Macedonian.
This then opens up the lane for his teammates to be able to navigate freely and attack the rim. If that Antic shows up, Atlanta has a great shot at winning.
However, the player who holds the key to victory might be Carroll. In the two games Atlanta won, he scored 12 and 18 points respectively. Want to know what he did in the losses? Carroll only managed to put up a mere five and three points in those. That’s not the kind of production you want out of your starting small forward. He has to get back to contributing not only on the defensive end, but the offensive end as well in order for Atlanta to be successful.
The same goes for the bench players too. Lately, they have been far too inconsistent. One game Lou Williams will go off, and then the next one it’s either Shelvin Mack or Mike Scott providing some key minutes. This second unit needs to come together all at one time because that would pay huge dividends for Atlanta. If the bench is able to come in and produce, the Hawks should easily defeat the Pacers in Game 5.