INDIANAPOLIS – Thanks to a 30-point, 11-rebound effort from Paul George and the re-emergence of Roy Hibbert, the Indiana Pacers held off a stubborn Atlanta Hawks team, 92-80 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
The top-seeded Pacers, who were thought to on the ropes and all but out, got a 24-point, 11-rebound effort from David West in a 95-88 win in Game 6 to force a deciding game on their court.
And boy, did the Pacers need it.
Outrebounded, out-hustled and too slow for the smaller and quicker Hawks, Indiana managed to finally slow down local product—and nemesis—in Jeff Teague as he was held to 16 points, three assists and three rebounds, after averaging 18.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists throughout the series.
Indiana would finally get some much-needed contributions from Lance Stephenson, the aforementioned Hibbert and George Hill now must prepare for another dangerous team in the Wizards.
In overcoming Atlanta’s NBA playoff single-game record 44 three-point attempts, a vulnerable Pacers team must now deal with perhaps the best shooting backcourt not named the Splash Brothers in the form of Washington Wizards duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Besides the questionable status of head coach Frank Vogel’s job, the shocking disappearing act of Hibbert that would have made Davis Copperfield proud and the questionable mental lack of a killer instinct for the Pacers, Indiana is more fortunate than good to survive the eight-seeded Hawks and avoid perhaps the biggest upset is modern-day NBA history.
While the Hawks are not the Dikembe Mutombo-led Denver Nuggets of yesteryear and the Pacers not the high-flying Shawn Kemp-led Seattle SuperSonics, but the way Indiana played throughout the series, everything but their proverbial tombstone in the graveyard of NBA upsets was all but paid in full.
Thankfully, Indiana rediscovered who and what they were in the knick of time.
Robert D. Cobb Is the CEO/Founder/Senior Editor-In-Chief of the InscriberMag : Digital Magazine and a member of the PFWA(Pro Football Writers Association), please follow him on Twitter at @RC_TheInscriberMag