Tonight, the Atlanta Hawks looked like a good team going against an opponent whose nearly flawless and fundamental play wouldn’t allow a hot shooting Hawks team back into the game.
The Indiana Pacers played good, fundamental basketball for 48-minutes and it resulted in the blowout of a team whose talent level is nearly identical. The Pacers took a 2-0 series lead, and things are shaping up favorably for the third seeded team whose arena resides in the dusty cornfields of the midwest.
The Pacers feature Paul George, who by all accounts is a great player, but George is a third option on OKC, Miami, and even the likes of New York and San Antonio. The fact that Vogel can guide an offense with George as its premier player to average offensive efficiency demonstrates only part of his brilliance as a coach.
The Pacers had some good fortune, too. The team closed the first quarter on a 16-4 run to take nine point lead into the second, pending a Roy Hibbert (seven points, two assists, two rebounds in first quarter) buzzer beater which was given video review. The 7’2″ center nailed a triple. He finished with 15 points and nine boards, seven of the points came early in the game.
Hibbert is a nice player, but he’s on a max-contract because of the dearth of talent at the 5-spot in the NBA. And Hibbert’s just not the kind of player who should be a second/third option (typically David West shoots more than the four shots he took tonight in his 20 minutes of play). And the Pacers still rolled.
It was that kind of night for Indiana, and the momentum is building for the Pacers to contend with the Heat in the East.