The Atlanta Hawks have no one to blame but themselves if the Indiana Pacers come out on top in this series. Atlanta was on their home floor for Game 6 last night, and should have ended the series right then and there. However, when the Hawks needed to be at their best late in the game, they simply were not. The offense failed to execute down the stretch, and it ended up costing them a victory in front of the home crowd at Philips Arena.
You can’t blame the two stars on the team either. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap played exceptionally well last night to try and guide Atlanta to a huge upset over the No. 1 seed. Teague finished with 29 points, which was a postseason career-high for the point guard. Millsap didn’t score as much as he probably should have, but he was a beast on the boards as he managed to pull down an impressive 18 rebounds. Yet, as great as these two played, they received no help from their teammates.
Besides Lou Williams, who scored 16 points off the bench, no other Atlanta player reached double digits in either points or rebounds. That’s just not good enough in order to beat a team like the Pacers. The Hawks need to have a balanced attack, and the only way to accomplish that is if players such as Mike Scott, DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic step up on the offensive end. All three only scored a combined 16 points when they each played 20 minutes or more in last night’s game. That has to improve in Game 7.
However, the real problem for the Hawks was their execution late in the game. They controlled a 84-79 lead with just over three minutes remaining, but went ice cold during crunch time. Atlanta didn’t score another point until 1:24 remaining in the fourth, and that was on an Antic free throw. The other three points came when the game was already decided, too. You have to perform better than that in order to beat Indiana. This is especially true when you’re playing on your home floor. There’s no excuse to allow the Pacers to go on a 16-4 run when the crowd is behind you.