Indiana Pacers fans can now breathe a little easier, as their team defeated the Atlanta Hawks on the road to force a Game 7. The contest was tight the whole way until the Pacers closed the game on a 16-4 run. David West stepped up when Indiana needed him most, going for 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. Indiana is still a mess, but this win delays the tough questions this team will face when their season ends.
The biggest problem is still the play of Roy Hibbert. Frank Vogel has lost any confidence he had left in the big man, as Hibbert only played 12 minutes in Game 6. The Pacers have resorted to playing small ball the last few games with the ineffectiveness of Hibbert, and it seems to be helping a bit. No one really knows why the 7-footer from Georgetown has been playing so poorly, but many point to something happening in the locker room that has been kept under wraps by the team. Whatever happened to Hibbert, all hope is lost that he will be getting back to his 2013 form during these playoffs.
Even if the Pacers win the Game 7 matchup against the Hawks Saturday, there is virtually no chance they will be able to defeat the Washington Wizards in the second round. The Wizards are playing extremely well, as they have just dispatched the gritty Chicago Bulls in only five games. Washington starts two legitimate big men in Nene and Marcin Gortat, and with Roy Hibbert playing as a shell of himself and Vogel hardly playing Luis Scola anymore, there isn’t much big man depth for the Pacers right now. This is obviously jumping the gun a bit, considering the Hawks have a real chance to beat the Pacers in Game 7. Atlanta has already defeated the Pacers two out of three games on the road this series, and will not hold anything back Saturday.
Larry Bird and the Pacers will have to make some significant changes this offseason, whether it be a few players that get moved, the coach getting fired, etc. Popular opinion is that Vogel will be the first to go if the Pacers lose to the Hawks or if they get embarrassed by the Wizards in round two. The biggest question of all still remains: What caused the huge collapse of the 2014 Indiana Pacers?