T.O.: The formula to beat the Hawks is pretty simple. Limit the good looks the Hawks get from behind the arc and don't send them to the charity stripe. Now the big question is how do you make that happen? Well the most simple solution is simply to contain the drivers. This the exact opposite that the Pacers really have done all year. They normally let people drive right at Hibbert who contests the shot. But the hawks love to drive and kick, and they spread the floor so the big men of the Pacers can't camp in the paint. So when the Pacers let a Hawk player by them, everyone else has to collapse and the result is either a lay up, a foul, or a kick to a wide open shooter. Teague has been doing all of the above versus the Pacers and the result has been a lot of foul shots and a lot of open 3's for the likes of Kyle Corver and Mike Scott.
M.M.: I think the most important thing the Pacers need to do to beat the Hawks in game 7 is adjust. The Pacers won early in the season by playing smash mouth, post up basketball on offense and strong defense. The Hawks play a different type of basketball, as T.O. describes, that is quick. The Hawks will drive to the net and kick the ball out to a three point shooter if they see an open man. I think the key is the Pacers need to continue to adjust throughout the night to shut down whatever is working for the Hawks. If they are able to drive and score then block the lanes to force them to drive. If they keep hitting threes then let them in the lane with only one big man to stop them and cover the three point shooters like hawks (pun intended). The key is to adjust - adjust and shut down the Hawks offensively. The Pacers might not need to do the whole eye liner maneuver but defense is what gave the Pacers the best record in the East and defense will get them into the second round.
B.: I agree with everything said above. I'd like to see the Pacers go small like they did to stop Atlanta's runs in game 6. As much as I like Hibbert I want him riding pine. A lot of his struggles haven't been his fault (poor passes to him) but for whatever reason the offense stops moving when he's in the game. So let him sit until needed. As for the rest of the team, they need to hulk up and play that blue collar basketball we've come to expect from them. That's how they took Miami to a game 7 last year, led the league for a good part of this season and won the East this year. They have to be strong and and they have to defend their home court (especially the three point line).
T.O.: I look at the match up of containing Teague as the big one, so I am looking at you here Paul. The pacers need PG to contain Teague like he did for large parts of Thursday night. The Pacers also count on PG to be a major contributor on offense, so PG has to be THE guy tonight.
M.M.: The Pacers need the entire team to set up but it will be key to get Paul George going early and often. David West will continue to carry this team but he needs help and Paul George has the talent and youth to help carry this team. They can't do it alone though and Lance's energy will be critical to get the entire team motivated. Lastly, the Pacers need a point guard, George Hill or C.J. Watson to set up. Strong point guard play can and will lead to setting up good offensive plays - which the Pacers desperately need.
B.: Not much more to add here because I know David West will play his heart out tonight. PG's ability to guard Teague is huge. If he can guard Teague like he did Thursday and stay out of foul trouble in doing so I like our odds. Also, George Hill was huge in the rally. He needs to build on that performance. So...it has to be 48 minutes of an entire team performance.
T.O.: PG gets in foul trouble, nobody else can stop Teague. Like I hinted at in the first 2 questions, Teague is the big guy for the Hawks offense and based on the stretches of the series where Paul George has been out of the game or covering someone else, nobody can contain him but PG. If Paul is in foul trouble all night, Teague could go for 30 points and 10+ assists... not to mention get about 5 other guys in foul trouble.
M.M.: The worst thing that could happen to the Pacers is Coach Vogel being too loyal and allowing the starting line-up to dig the Pacers into a big hole - at any point in the game. When the Pacers keep the game within reach through three quarters they can pull out a victory. The Pacers can't afford to go down 20, 25 or heaven forbid 30 points again. Just like my answer to post 1, adjust, the worst thing that can happen to the Pacers is if their head coach doesn't adjust and they end up falling so far behind they can't catch up.
B.: A loss at home in game 7 to the #8 seed. That's the worst that could happen. Losing in the first round would be a giant leap backwards from all that this team has accomplished this year.
T.O.: JEFF TEAGUE, but seeing I have talked about that in depth, any and all 3 point shooters. This mainly comes back to Kyle Corver and Paul Millsap. While Milsap doesn't hit a ton of 3's he does spot up and shoot well and is good about taking advantage of slow rotations. When Teague gets into the lane, we have got to make sure the other guys aren't in a position to make us pay. Everybody has to do their job and shut down passing lanes and get out on their shooters when they do get the ball. We CANNOT afford a repeat of game 5 where a guy like Mike Scott catches fire and starts making whatever he puts up. Don't let the shooters get into a rhythm.
M.M.: JEFF TEAGUE - just had to reiterate T.O.'s point. The video sums up what we don't want to see. Enough said.
B.: TEAGUE. His ability to penetrate frees up guys like Korver and Millsap. Also, he will be motivated playing in his hometown. Really, the Pacers just need to bring back that league-leading defense.
T.O.: Pacers 95- Hawks 88... and we all take a giant sigh of relief.
M.M.: The Pacers will prevail because Frank Vogel has proven that he has learned how to adjust and he will do it again in Game 7... Pacers 96 - Hawks 86.
B.: Pacers 95-90. If it's as close as any of our predictions, my heart might kill me before the game ends. It just about did on Thursday.