Head coach Frank Vogel and his Indiana Pacers live to fight another day with their 95-88 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6.
In a weird way, the Pacers kind of need to thank Roy Hibbert for once again being terrible. The big man, who is pulling off one of the greatest disappearing acts of all time, picked up two fouls early on and found himself on the bench. Vogel wised up and put in little-used Chris Copeland to match-up with Atlanta and thus got the team back into the game after watching the Hawks get off to a blistering start. The Pacers made the smart decision and it paid huge dividends for them.
Talent has not been the issue for the Pacers in this series but stubbornness has. Their unwillingness to realize that Hibbert is an epic fail right now has limited the ability for the other guys on their team like George Hill and David West to be as effective as they could be. Once Hibbert was out, West went on to have a great game because the lane was no longer clogged up. Their was space for not only Paul George, who poured in 24 points and eight rebounds, but the streaky Lance Stephenson to work with. Stephenson finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. West also tallied his first double-double of the playoffs with a 24-point, 11-rebound effort.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks did not have a great night from the field, shooting 36 percent and a measly 26 percent from the three-point line. Nevertheless, they had a chance to close the series out with a huge effort from point guard Jeff Teague, who single-handedly almost led the Hawks to a series-clinching victory. Teague, who is making an early bid to be an All-Star next season, paced Atlanta with a huge 29-point effort. Where the Hawks failed in Game 6 was their inability to move the ball around. Despite their meager 38-44 record, the Hawks were one of the best passing teams in the league. Throughout this series though Atlanta has been held well below their 25 assist-per-game average; Game 6 was no exception as Atlanta only tallied 15 assists. The cool thing about passing the ball is it creates rhythm for the offense so even if a team is having a bad shooting night, you can get easy shots or at least to the line because the defense is constantly being moved around. The Hawks do not possess the ability to beat Indiana one-on-one but they can if they are moving the ball around, which is why Indiana finds themselves facing a Game 7 in the first place.
Indiana now gets to head back home to try to continue a shaky title run against a Hawks squad that has had their number on their own home court. The Hawks will be looking to make history as only the sixth team to beat a one-seed in the first round. Regardless of who wins on Saturday, both teams will have their hands full in the second round with a white-hot Washington Wizards squad fresh off of an impressive series win over the Chicago Bulls.