INDIANA PACERS (57-27)
at ATLANTA HAWKS (39-45)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference First Round
Game 3 - Series tied 1-1
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -2, Total: 186
After a crucial victory in Game 2 of their first-round series, the Pacers look to ride that momentum on Thursday night when they visit the Hawks for Game 3.
Although Indiana is feeling confident after a 101-85 dismantling of Atlanta on Tuesday where it outshot its opponent 53% FG to 39% FG, the club has not fared well at Philips Arena in recent seasons, producing a miserable 2-14 SU mark (4-12 ATS) since 2007. However, both of those wins came in the past three meetings in Atlanta, prevailing 81-73 in Game 6 in of last year's first-round playoffs and 89-85 in the most recent meeting on Feb. 4. Overall, this series has been tight over the past three seasons, with the teams sitting at 9-9-1 ATS each. The Pacers are a mediocre 21-20 SU (17-24 ATS) on the road this season, including 11-17 ATS (39%) as a road favorite, and are also a dismal 11-27 ATS (29%) versus teams making 6+ threes per game in the second half of the season. But road teams where the line is +3 to -3 with an average offense (92-98 PPG) facing a poor defense (98-102 PPG allowed), after 42+ games, after allowing 85 points or less are a stellar 41-14 ATS (75%) since 1996. The Hawks are a pedestrian 24-16 SU (21-19 ATS) at home this season, and just 21-23 SU (20-22-2 ATS) when coming off a loss. But they are a strong 25-15-1 ATS (63%) with exactly one day's rest, and even with Monday's loss, are still 7-3 SU (8-2 ATS) in their past 10 games overall. There are no new injury concerns for either team.
Atlanta used its one-two punch of PF Paul Millsap (22.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG in series) and PG Jeff Teague (21.0 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.0 RPG in series) to get a leg up in this series, as the pair combined for 53 points in Game 1, but the duo was limited to just 33 points on Monday. Teague was unable to penetrate like he did in Game 1 (9-of-10 FT), going 1-of-2 from the foul line in Game 2. Millsap finished with only four rebounds in his 31 minutes of action on Monday where he committed four turnovers, five personal fouls and recorded a woeful minus-26 rating. SF DeMarre Carroll (8.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG in series) also fizzled after a brilliant Game 1 (12 points and 10 boards), contributing a meager five points and two rebounds in 29 minutes, while SG Kyle Korver (7.5 PPG on 35% FG in series) made just 1-of-5 shots to finish with three points and a minus-22 rating. PF Mike Scott had just two points and one rebound in Game 1, but played much better on Monday with 11 points and a team-high-tying rating of +10. SG Louis Williams (8.5 PPG on 33% FG in series) also contributed 11 points off the bench, but did so on 4-of-12 shooting and a weak minus-16 rating.
Indiana won nearly every facet of Game 2, controlling the boards (38-31), dominating the lane (40-24 points in paint) and dishing out nearly twice as many assists (25) as Atlanta (13). The one negative was its 16 turnovers, as 11 different players committed at least one miscue. SF Paul George (25.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 5.5 APG, 4.0 SPG in series) was the best player on the court in Game 2, finishing with 27 points (9-of-16 FG, 5-of-7 threes), 10 rebounds, six assists, four steals and game-high rating of +29. But the team's other frontcourt starting mates were non-factors, as C Roy Hibbert (7.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG in series) and PF David West (8.0 PPG, 5.0 APG, 2.5 RPG in series) combined for just 14 points and six rebounds in a combined 48 minutes. Hibbert was particularly awful, making just 1-of-7 shots, while West finished with a game-high-tying six assists. PG George Hill (13.5 PPG on 63% FG in series) played a much stronger game on both ends of the court on Monday, as he kept Teague from penetrating, while tallying 15 points (5-of-8 FG, 5-of-6 FT), four assists and a +22 rating on offense. SG Lance Stephenson (13.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.0 APG in series) was pretty quiet with only seven points on 3-of-6 FG, but also recorded five assists and three boards. But the player who gave the Pacers their most unexpected boost was reserve PF Luis Scola, who followed up a Game 1 dud (2 points, 0-for-6 FG, 2 rebounds, minus-12 rating) with 20 points (9-of-14 FG), seven rebounds and a +17 rating.