NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, May 3rd
(All times Eastern)
(8) Atlanta Hawks (3-3) at (1) Indiana Pacers (3-3), 5:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers fought off elimination once and will
try to do it again Saturday evening when they host the Atlanta Hawks in Game
The Pacers are fortunate they will have superstar Paul George in the lineup
Saturday. During a skirmish between teammate George Hill and Atlanta's Mike
Scott in Game 6, George took a few steps on to the court.
Traditionally, that has warranted a suspension, but a slight change in the
language of the rule probably kept George away from missing this critical
With their championship hopes on the line, the Pacers gutted out a 95-88
victory at Philips Arena on Thursday night. For at least two nights, Indiana
avoided becoming the sixth No. 1 seed to lose to an eight seed in the first
"Gutsy win for our guys. Very proud of them for not only playing a good
basketball game but overcoming a few furious runs by the Hawks, especially
late in the third quarter," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel.
David West tallied 12 fourth-quarter points to lead the Eastern Conference's
top seed to victory. West finished with 11 rebounds and six assists to go
along with 24 points, two of which came on a contested runner with 46.5
seconds left that broke an 85-85 deadlock.
The clutch basket was part of a 16-4 run over the final three minutes that
kept the Pacers alive after dropping three of the first five meetings of the
series, and set up a winner-take-all showdown in Indianapolis. West netted
eight points during the decisive surge.
"We wanted to extend our season," he said. "I thought we did a great job just
closing the show."
George rose to the occasion as well, putting up 24 points and eight rebounds
in the season-saving result. Lance Stephenson added 21 points and nine
rebounds for Indiana.
George scored nine points during the pivotal fourth quarter, during which the
Pacers outscored the Hawks by a 31-21 count.
Atlanta received 29 points from Jeff Teague and a monster 16-point, 18-rebound
effort out of Paul Millsap, but couldn't maintain its success from the 3-point
line that propelled them to Monday's 107-97 triumph in Game 5.
The Hawks knocked down 15-of-27 attempts from beyond the arc in the previous
matchup, but went just 9-of-35 in failing to close out the series.
Atlanta, the lone entry in this year's playoffs with a losing record during
the regular season, appeared on the verge of advancing after Teague scored on
consecutive possessions to give his team an 84-79 lead with 3:16 to go.
The Hawks turned it over on their next trip, though, after West buried two
free throws, and the veteran forward sank a jumper from the elbow before Hill
converted a layup off a screen that put Indiana up 85-84 with just under two
Atlanta's Pero Antic made 1-of-2 from the line to tie it, but the Pacers' Ian
Mahinmi pulled down a key rebound off a George miss to set up West's go-ahead
basket in the final minute.
George then came up with a big steal of Lou Williams on the ensuing possession
and was fouled with 33.8 seconds left. He hit both bonus attempts for an 89-85
lead which quickly swelled to eight points, as the Hawks continued to miss
shots down the stretch and the Pacers kept on making free throws.
"Man, we gave this one away," Millsap remarked. "We gift-wrapped it and now
we've got to go in and take our gift back."
The Pacers lost a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals last season to the
Miami Heat. The Hawks are 2-2 in Game 7s since moving to Atlanta.
05/03 10:34:10 ET