Posted: 11:08 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, 2013
By Robby Kalland
Game 2 was eerily similar to Game 1. The Hawks started strong and it was an exciting back-and-forth affair for much of the first quarter before Paul George and George Hill took over to let the Pacers roll to a 2-0 series lead. Foul trouble forced Josh Smith to take a seat just two minutes into the game, and he was only able to play 20 minutes in the entire game. In that 20 minutes, Smith was effective and efficient scoring 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds. Jeff Teague was strong in the first half with 16 points but disappeared in the second half. Teague had just four shot attempts in the second half with 0 points and three assists.
Paul George set a career high with 27 points for the Pacers going 11-for-21 from the field and was active defensively with four steals. George gave the Hawks defense problems once again in trying to match him up one-on-one. Devin Harris did better to stay in front of George, but George's size proved to be too much at times for Harris to handle. Larry Drew had hoped to play Josh Smith on George more, but due to the foul trouble could not keep a big lineup on the floor for an extended period of time.
The unsung hero (who I am about to sing the praises of) for the second straight game was George Hill. Hill had 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and went 4-for-7 from three point range. Hill's shooting from the outside has given the Pacers offense a different dimension in this series. He is shooting 7-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first two games of the series which is forcing the Hawks to think twice about having Teague help down on the post or face the consequence of a made three. If Hill shoots like he has in the first two games, it will be extremely difficult for the Hawks to get back in the series.
While George Hill is lighting it up, Kyle Korver has gone ice cold. Korver was 3-for-9 from three in Game 2, and is shooting just 4-of-14 from range in the series. Korver's spacing and ability to hit shots has been crucial to the Hawks offense this year, and if he's unable to make those open shots (he missed at least 4 open looks in Game 2) then the Hawks are in trouble.
Al Horford played 38 minutes in Game 2 after the controversy of just playing 28 in Game 1, but he struggled on offense going 5-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-6 from the free throw line for 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Hawks have to get Horford going, especially from the mid-range, if they are going to open up the Pacers stingy defense. They did that early on, but went away from the pick-and-roll in the middle of the game and were unable to get the rhythm back down the stretch.
Refereeing was a hot topic once again in Game 2 as the Pacers out shot the Hawks 29 to 20 from the free throw line (making 21 to just 11 for Atlanta). The Hawks were hit with three technical fouls (Devin Harris, Ivan Johnson, and Al Horford) with one egregious error by Ken Mauer who T'd up Horford for pulling his arm away quickly from Jeff Pendergraph.
While the referees played a role in making the margin so wide, they were not the reason the Hawks lost. The Hawks made crucial errors, lost their aggressive edge (sideye to Jeff Teague), and did not execute well enough on either end to deserve the victory. Credit the Pacers for staying on the attack for most of the game and for deterring the Hawks from attacking the rim, but the Hawks will have to force the issue in Atlanta if they are going to make this a competitive series.
Game 3 will take place on Saturday night at 7:00 PM at Philips Arena as the Hawks try to hold home-court and force the series back to Indiana.