INDIANA PACERS (57-28)
at ATLANTA HAWKS (40-45)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference First Round
Game 4 - Atlanta leads series 2-1
Tip-off: Saturday, 2:05 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -2, Total: 186
After another convincing win on Thursday, the team with the worst record in the NBA playoffs, the Hawks, are now looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the top-seeded Pacers in Saturday's Game 4.
With Indiana shooting 37.6% FG in a humiliating 98-85 loss in Atlanta in Thursday's Game 3, the club fell to a dreadful 2-15 SU mark (4-13 ATS) since 2007. However, both of those wins came in the past four meetings at Philips Arena, prevailing 81-73 in Game 6 in of last year's first-round playoffs and 89-85 in the most recent regular-season meeting on Feb. 4. Overall, this series has been tight over the past three seasons, with the Hawks holding a slim 10-9-1 ATS advantage. The Pacers are a mediocre 21-21 SU (17-25 ATS) on the road this season, including 11-18 ATS (38%) as a road favorite, and are also a dismal 11-28 ATS (28%) versus teams making 6+ threes per game in the second half of the season. But home underdogs with less than 14.5 TOPG facing a poor pressure defense (less than 14.5 TOPG) after 42+ games are just 182-248 ATS (42%) over the past five seasons. The Hawks are a solid 25-16 SU (22-19 ATS) at home this season, and just 18-21 SU (19-20 ATS) when coming off a win. But they are a strong 26-15-1 ATS (63%) with exactly one day's rest, and are playing great basketball at 8-3 SU (9-2 ATS) in their past 11 games overall. There are no new injury concerns for either team.
Indiana did a great job down low in Game 3, holding a 51-41 rebounding advantage and 38-26 edge in points on the paint, but the team shot horribly from the outside, making only 5-of-20 threes. After averaging a strong 13.5 PPG on 63% FG in the first two games of the series, PG George Hill made just 1-of-11 FG on Thursday, missing all three of his long-range tries and finishing with a minus-13 rating. SF Paul George also had a horrible offensive night with a mere 12 points on 3-of-11 FG, which was a far cry from his 25.5 PPG in the first two games of the series. Although George finished with a game-low minus-16 rating, he did pull down 14 rebounds and dish out four assists in Game 3. But the biggest reason this team is down 2-1 in a series versus a club with more wins than losses this season is the continued subpar play of C Roy Hibbert. The 7-foot-2 All-Star had just four points (2-of-9 FG) and two rebounds in 19 uninspiring minutes in Game 3, and is now averaging 6.0 PPG (28% FG) and 4.7 RPG in the series. The lone bright spots for the Pacers on Thursday were SG Lance Stephenson (21 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three steals) and reserve PF Luis Scola (17 points on 7-of-11 FG). Scola helped control the paint in Game 3, but if the Pacers don't stop Atlanta's penetration, they are in for another upset loss.
The Hawks were able to get to the foul line 37 times (compared to 21 for Indiana) on Thursday, and knock down 30 of those shots (81% FT). Their ability to get into the paint allowed the outside shooters to knock down 12 three-point shots on a decent 35.3% clip. PG Jeff Teague (21.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 3.3 RPG in series) continued his tremendous playoffs with 22 points and 10 assists in Game 3, while backcourt mate SG Kyle Korver (11.7 PPG, 46% FG, 4.0 RPG in series) destroyed the Pacers from long range with 20 points on 6-of-9 FG (4-of-7 threes) while also grabbing six rebounds. Speaking of crashing the glass, PF Paul Millsap (19.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG in series) averaged just 6.0 RPG in the first two games of the series, but he yanked down 14 boards to go along with 14 points on Thursday. The big man also posted a game-high +20 rating despite six turnovers. SF DeMarre Carroll (11.7 PPG, 60% FG, 5.3 RPG in series) also continued his strong play this postseason with 18 points (6-of-8 FG), four boards and a +16 rating. Atlanta's bench also contributed solid minutes too with 23 points (8-of-11 FT) and 11 rebounds. With this team growing in confidence, it has put Indiana in very dangerous spot in this series.