The Atlanta Hawks may have entered the postseason with the worst record among all playoff teams at 38-44, but that was not on their mind Saturday night. What was on the Hawks' mind, as the NBA playoffs got underway, was their beat-down of the Indiana Pacers just two weeks ago at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. With that 19-point win fresh in their minds, the Hawks were hoping that they could recreate the performance that helped get them into the playoffs.
The Hawks struggled at first, but opened up a 20-point lead over Indiana in the third quarter. Despite a late rally, the Hawks cruised to a 101-93 victory in Game 1 of their first-round series over the Pacers to swipe home-court advantage from the top team in the East.
Jeff Teague was spectacular, with 28 points and five assists. With Kyle Korver, Pero Antic, and Paul Millsa[ spacing the floor out with decent long range shooting, Teague was able to take control with several drives right through the heart of the Pacers' defense, while the Hawks nailed 11 three-pointers.
Milllsap finished with 25 points and eight rebounds. Antic had eight points and seven rebounds, but made two three pointers as the Hawks were able to get Roy Hibbert and David West stretched out of position for Teague's slashing efforts. DeMarre Carroll also had a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Indiana was no better on the offensive end. After fighting to a 50-50 tie at halftime, the Pacers made just 5 of 19 shots in the third quarter and shot just 35.6% from the floor in the second half. The frustration continued after the game, as the Pacers watched homecourt advantage disappear in 48 minutes after spending 82 grueling games to clinch it. All-Star Paul George (24 points, 10 rebounds) called it "frustrating" while Hibbert called tomorrow's Game 2 a "must-win" for his suddenly vulnerable team.
The Hawks, though, continue to surpass the low expectations everyone has had all season. Now, they can really upset the NBA playoff picture. Game 2 tips off tomorrow night at 7:00 PM EDT.