Pacers vs Hawks. Hawks vs Pacers. It all comes down to this: One decisive game 7 in Indiana decides who goes on to the second round of the playoffs and who goes home with a lot of time on their hands to think about what could have been.
The Pacers had a minor scare when the NBA decided to review Paul George’s actions in stepping away from the bench during some extracurricular activity in game six of the Hawks vs Pacers series. George – undoubtedly the Pacers’ best player – was not ruled to have left “the vicinity of the bench.” Although he took two steps towards the altercation, assistant coach Popeye Jones was on hand to corral him and keep him from doing anything that could get him suspended going into a crucial game 7 with the Hawks.
Losing George would have been devastating for the Pacers. The all-star has scored 20 or more points in every game of the Pacers vs Hawks series and has recorded five double-doubles.
The Hawks, an eighth-seeded team that very few figured would even make it to a game 7, have been strong throughout the series, narrowly missing the chance to send the Pacers packing in game six. According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer had this to say about his team’s play during the Hawks vs Pacers series and their prospects going into a game 7:
“We’ve responded well all year when we’ve been in difficult situations. Part of our response is going to have to be better execution. I think we have a lot of positive reference points from all year. Our group has been very good and very resilient. I have a lot of confidence in our group.”
If the Hawks can pull off a W in Indianapolis this afternoon, they’ll become only the sixth team in league history to win from the eighth seed in the first round of the playoffs. They’ll be on Indy’s home court, but that hasn’t presented a problem for them so far this year. For their part, the Pacers don’t appear to be taking home court advantage as any kind of a guarantee. Pacers coach Frank Vogel had this to say:
“My thing is that three of the last four times we’ve played these guys in Indy, they built 20-point leads and beat us pretty good. So I don’t think anyone from this team can think we’re going to be OK just because we’re back home.”
What do you think? Can Atlanta win the Hawks vs Pacers series and become the sixth team to advance from the eighth seed or will the Pacers rule the day on their home court? Watch the Pacers vs Hawks game 7 this afternoon at 5:30 Eastern Standard Time streaming online live here.