Pacers Aggressively Defeat Hawks, Heat Crush Bucks in Game 1
After some suggested that the Atlanta Hawks had slacked off in their last few regular season games, their poor play continued on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers in the first game of the playoffs. The Pacers won 107-90 after coming out in strong in the first quarter with 34 points.
Also contributing to the win was Paul George’s triple double (23 points, 11 rebounds with 12 assists). George Hill, who has been recovering from an injured left groin, returned to play hitting 7 of 10 from the field, three 3-pointers for 18 game points. Roy Hibbert contributed 16 points with 11 rebounds.
The Pacers dominated the Hawks as they outrebounded them 48-32, kept them to 14 fast-break points and led in free throws: the Pacers went 30 for 34 while the Hawks made seven of 14 free throws.
For the Hawks, Jeff Teague, a native of Indianapolis, led in scoring with his 21 points and seven assists. Josh Smith added 15 points with eight rebounds, followed by Al Horford’s 14 points.
Hawks coach Larry Drew wasn’t pleased by his team’s performance and said after the game via The Associated Press, “We didn’t come up with the big plays, we didn’t come up with the hustle plays, the energy plays. I thought right when we were, I believe it was a nine-point game, them shooting a free throw, they come up with the offensive rebound off the free throw, kick it out, swing it around, they get a 3. That’s just getting outworked. They just clearly outworked us.”
Game 2 is on Wednesday. Will the Hawks shake off what appears to be a slump?
The Pacers are 5 to 1 for a 4-0 series sweep.
Heat Rout the Bucks
In other Sunday action for the Southeast, the Miami Heat defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-87, in the first game of their series.
It was business as usual for the Heat as they entered the game winning their last 37 of 39 games. In this uneven No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup, they led for the entire game with LeBron James, who came up short for a triple-double, leading the team in scoring with 27 points (9 for 11 shooting), 10 rebounds and eight assists.
For the series, James has a 27.5 o/u for average first-round points per game and enters the playoffs as the favorite to win this year’s NBA MVP.
Ray Allen came off the bench and added 20 points while Dwyane Wade had 16, Chris Bosh contributed 15 and Chris Andersen saw 10 points.
As for the Bucks, they know it is going to be a tough series but Brandon Jennings said before the game, his team would take the Heat in six games. And on Sunday, he gave it a good effort with his 26 points from versatile shooting. At one point, the Bucks came within seven points.
Monta Ellis scored 11 points in the third quarter and ended with 22 points for the day.
The Bucks are used to losing the first game in Round 1 for the playoffs. They haven’t won one since 2001. And now if they have any chance win the series, they’ll now have to win four of five games. They’ll also have to hope the Heat continue coming up short in 3-pointers (30 percent) and keep the turnovers coming (19 times).
Game 2 is on Wednesday and the Heat are 4 to 5 to take the series 4-0.
For now, the Heat are their own biggest enemy to reach this year’s Championship as repeaters. Wade agreed and last week said via the Miami Herald.com, “A lot of people say the hardest thing is to win your first championship. I think the hardest thing is to win another one, and then another one. You can get that first one. You give it your all because it’s something you always dreamed of. But after you get to that mountaintop, now what do you pull [motivation] from? The hardest thing is to come back with that same intensity.”