The Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks were matched up with the NBA's first game of the triple header of game seven's. Indiana hosted the game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and coming out in the first quarter, the fans were into it.
The fans were screaming, yelling, and jumping even as the Pacers started out slow. Indiana started with 5 turnovers, 33% shooting from the field, and found themselves in a 12-7 deficit. This was gut check time as the fans were still, somehow, on their side, and the pressure was on them to reward them.
The Pacers did just that as the Pacers fought right back and went on a small 10-4 run. Roy Hibbert especially picked up his play, as he scored 8 points in the first quarter (More than game 5 and 6 combined), and was constantly calling for the ball. It was great to see this, as the Pacers have really struggled when playing big (Due to Hibbert), but Roy was ready in the beginning.
The Pacers and Hawks fought back and forth for the last half of the 1st quarter, but the Pacers ended with momentum. Lance Stephenson was a major part in this as he was diving on the floor, grabbing athletic rebounds, and looked fired up. At the end of the 1st, the score was 24-23 in favor of Indiana.
The game continued to be back and forth through the first 6 minutes of the second, and the Pacers still had a 1 point lead. It was a weird feeling as the game was back and forth, and only a one point game, but it felt as though the Pacers had complete control. The fans seemed to be effecting the game, and it was greatly in the Pacers favor.
The Pacers momentum only rose as Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, and the Pacers defense took over the last couple minutes of the 2nd quarter. The Pacers were able to go on a 14-0 run and force Atlanta into 1-13 shooting in the last 9 minutes of the quarter. Paul Millsap was especially struggling with 0-9 shooting, and not making his usual shots. The entire Hawks team, in fact, were not making their usual shots. On the other side, Paul George and Stephenson took over as George scored 10, Stephenson with 5, and the Pacers left half with a 47-36 lead. Paul George ended the half with 16, Stephenson with 10, Hibbert with 9, and the Hawks were shooting 30% from the floor.
Not to mention, the Pacers went into half with a huge boost to their momentum as Ian Mahinmi had an incredible block against Teague. Teauge went for a poster, but Ian had other thoughts and sent the shot right back in his face. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was the loudest its been since 2013, and the Pacers were looking great.
Their momentum, again, rose in the 3rd quarter. The Pacers jumped out on a 10-0 run at the beginning of the 3rd, and held a 17 points lead. George Hill lead the charge with 7 points, and the Pacers were playing pretty consistent offense. On the opposite end, the Hawks shot 2 for 15 from the field in the first 7 minutes of the 3rd.
The Pacers looked ready to blow the game open, and the fans were ready too, but the Hawks put up an important run to get themselves back in the game. The Hawks went on an 18-9 run to end the 3rd, with Mike Scott (Who made game 5 a blow out in the 2nd) and Shelvin Mack playing great. Scott scored 8 on the run (2 three's), and Mack scored 8 points in the 3rd (2 three's). Just like that, the game was actually game now, and the score was 71-63 at the end of the 3rd.
The game remained relatively close through the early first quarter, until Paul George took over. Paul George scored 9 of the Pacers 11 points through the end of the 3rd and beginning of 4th, and pushed the lead back to 15 points. Through the rest of the game, the Pacers remained in control and the lead never came within single digits. The Pacers were able to play their usual great defense, shut down Millsap (6-21 from field), and finally, play efficiently on offense (50% from floor). At the end of the day, George ended the game with 30 points, and was, without a doubt, player of the game. George had help around him, as Roy Hibbert (Energy), Lance Stephenson (Energy), and George Hill woke up (13, 19, 15 points), but it was PG who won the game for Indiana.
Now, Indiana moves on to the second round to match up with the Washington Wizards. Congratulations to Paul George and the Pacers, and maybe next year Atlanta Hawks.