Hawks vs. Pacers: Moment of truth arrives for Atlanta

USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks return home to face the Pacers in Game 3 on Saturday with their entire season on the line.

Without going into too much detail the Atlanta Hawks were thoroughly whipped by the Indiana Pacers in Games 1&2 and are now in a must-win situation as the series shifts to Philips Arena. The Hawks aren't the only team facing a must-win situation in Game 3 and this series isn't over yet but overcoming a 3-0 deficit to a Pacers team that looks like they are hitting their stride will be too much for Atlanta.

So how do they win Game 3? Play better? Play high level basketball for 48 minutes? Yeah that is a good start but here are some other thoughts:

  • No. 1 is relax. I know I just said that the entire season is riding on Game 3 so how could I expect them to be relaxed? Even after jumping out to early leads to start Games 1 and 2 the Hawks have looked desperate like they are struggling to hang in the game. The Pacers have been much more relaxed and have been poised to strike whenever the Hawks stumbled. Its time to relax, slow everything down and play sound basketball.
  • Make some threes. I don't care who it is but Kyle Korver would be a nice start. Korver has struggled a bit and looks like he is rushing things to me but give Indiana's defense a lot of credit in that regard. The Hawks need to make enough from the perimeter in order to stretch the defense or the Pacers are just going to continue to choke them at the rim.
  • Defend better. Yeah I don't have much of an answer for this one because the Hawks have battled match up issues with opposing small forwards throughout the season. Game 3 is on Saturday and I am still waiting to see Josh Smith get a shot at slowing down Paul George. Foul trouble prevented that in Game 2 but I'm not sure the Hawks can afford to wait any longer without putting Smith on George.
  • Show some pride at home. I am sick and tired of all the wise cracks and barbs that come from the media concerning the Hawks and their fan base. Go out there in Game 3 and compete like its the Finals because essentially their pride is all they have left. So the fans need to make Philips a crazy playoff like atmosphere but the Atlanta Hawks have to give them something to cheer about.
After two games you have to credit the Pacers. They are a great team that is going to be good for sometime. I worried about the Hawks matching up against the better defensive teams and that has shown through in the first two games because they have struggled. The series isn't over though and a lot of good teams like Houston, the Lakers, Memphis and the Celtics are in very similar positions. However, a loss in Game 3 for all tenths and purposes will be the final domino to fall in this transitional season.
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