The Atlanta Hawks, the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, made a huge first impression with their 101-93 victory over the top-seeded Indiana Pacers on April 19. The question is can the Hawks, who are up 1-0 in the best of seven series, become just the fifth eighth-seeded team in NBA history to knock off a top-seed?
Jeff Teague scored a playoff career-high 28 points and Paul Millsap added 25 to lead eighth-seeded Hawks to their first road playoff game in three years. Teague, who wound up 9 of 19 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free throw line, scored 20 of his points on drives. He also added five assists and three rebounds.
Paul George led Indiana with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Lance Stephenson finished with 19 points and seven rebounds and George Hill added 12 points.
In the other Eastern Conference playoff game on Saturday, the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets opened their series with a 94-87 victory over third-seeded Toronto Raptors. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each had 24 points for the Nets while Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter.
Brooklyn shot 42.4 percent from the field and just 16.7 percent (4-of-24) of their shots from beyond the arc, which tied for the fourth-lowest 3-point field goal percentage by a winning team in the playoffs in the last 25 seasons (minimum 20 attempts).
Toronto led 77-76 on a triple by Greivis Vasquez at 5:15, but the Nets replied with a jumper by Johnson, a turnaround jumper by Kevin Garnett and a three-pointer by Pierce to lead 82-76 with 2:58 remaining.
Kyle Lowry scored 22 points for the Raptors and Jonas Valanciunas produced his first career- playoff double-double with 17 points and 18 rebounds.
The rest of the article will examine the four Eastern Conference playoff series.
No. 8 Atlanta vs. No. 1 Indiana: The Pacers, who went 12-13 in the last 25 game of the season, continued their struggles against the Hawks in Game one of the series. . Roy Hibbert continued his baffling play on Saturday as he was 4-for-9 from the floor and finished with eight points and eight rebounds. Atlanta went 38-44 in the regular season. Since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1983-84, teams that entered the postseason with a sub .500 record are just 2-40 in playoff series. Prediction: Indiana in seven games despite the fact the Pacers split their four regular season games with the Hawks and that Atlanta is the only team to win on Indiana’s home floor twice this season.
No.7 Charlotte Bobcats vs. No. 2 Miami Heat: The Bobcats are in the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history and their reward is to face the two-time reigning NBA champs. Miami swept Charlotte this season and is 15-0 since LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade have teamed up. Prediction: Miami in five.
No. 6 Brooklyn vs. No. 3 Toronto: Brooklyn is playoff tested while Toronto is a relatively inexperienced playoff team. The Raptors, who turned the ball over 19 times in game one, must protect the ball better. Prediction Brooklyn’s Game one win was huge, Nets in six. Brooklyn and Toronto spit their four regular season games.
No. 5 Washington vs. No. 4 Chicago: The Bulls are the more experienced team and one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Chicago overcame several injuries to key players to win 48 games and is 6-2 in their last eight games. Washington, which features two very good young guards (Bradley Beal and John Wall), and Chicago split their four regular season games. Prediction: Chicago in six.