Larry Drew announced this morning that the Hawks will start the same lineup of Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith, and Al Horford that they did in Game 1 of the series. This came as a surprise to most Hawks fans who assumed Drew would make an adjustment after the 107-90 loss in which the Pacers took advantage of apparent mismatches. The Pacers will also likely trot out the same starting lineup of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert seeing as it worked out pretty well last game.
The biggest mismatch, and the one that was exploited the most by Indiana, was Kyle Korver's inability to guard Paul George. Korver has been a much better defender than I think anyone hoped coming into this year, but he just can't match-up with George's size and speed. George was able to get into the lane at will against Korver, which led to his 17 free throw attempts, as well as many of his assists and rebounds on his way to a triple-double. George shot just 3-of-13 from the field, but by getting around Korver, he forced a help defender to slide over to cut off the attack. This led to some drop off passes to Hibbert and West, as well as some kick-outs to George Hill for threes when the short corner defender had to slide down.
The Hawks will have to do something differently than they did on Sunday if they are going to win. Many figured that change would be in the lineup, but that does not seem to be the case. Hopefully Drew has come up with a different scheme to stop George's penetration (trapping him, switching screens, going zone) because if the scheme is the same and the lineup is the same, the Hawks could be in for another long night.
The reason for sticking with this lineup is the hope that they can push the pace. Jeff Teague will have to be active and aggressive from the tip on both ends of the floor to get the Hawks out in transition, and to run the half-court offense with more tempo. Kyle Korver struggled in the first game going 2-for-7 with just one three point make and will have to have a bigger impact on the offensive end to make up for the defensive mismatch. At practice on Monday, Drew preached the necessity of playing with pace in transition and the half-court and he feels this lineup gives them the best opportunity to do so.
If the Hawks struggle early on the defensive end with George and are not able to push the tempo, I expect Drew to go to the big lineup quicker than last game. Ivan Johnson and Johan Petro can expect to see a lot of the floor, and this time I think it will come at the expense of one of the perimeter player's minutes; not Al Horford's.