Pacers vs Hawks Game 4 preview: Atlanta looks to take commanding lead

Kevin C. Cox

The Atlanta Hawks look to push the Pacers to the brink of elimination when the two teams meet Saturday at Philips Arena.

The Atlanta Hawks look to push the Indiana Pacers to the brink of elimination when the two teams clash in Game 4 at Philips Arena on Saturday.

Right now the Hawks are playing loose and confident with good reason. The spotlight has been placed firmly on the Pacers whose late regular season struggles have carried over to the postseason. Save the second half of Game 2, the Hawks have clearly been the aggressor and have forced Indiana into adapting their style in an effort to combat Atlanta.

Heading into Game 4 potential lineup changes for Frank Vogel's team are again the top storyline. After another lackluster performance by center Roy Hibbert in Game 3, Vogel hinted that a lineup change could happen. Hibbert didn't play a minute during the fourth quarter of the Game 3 loss and has done virtually nothing to help his cause.

For the majority of the season the Pacers have deployed a lineup in more of a traditional sense that included a center like Hibbert or backup Ian Mahinmi. Atlanta has forced them to go small at times in this series which is something that they weren't comfortable doing all that often in the regular season.

Luis Scola has played well for Indiana over the last two games and figures to see more minutes especially if Hibbert continues to struggle. All of Indy's struggles can't be placed on the shoulders of Hibbert. George Hill has been sporadic offensively for the entire series and has struggled to contain Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague. Hill has struggled enough on the defensive end that Vogel was forced to assign Paul George to chase Teague in Games 2 & 3. George himself had an uncharacteristically bad offensive game on Thursday finishing with 12 points on 3-11 shooting.

Atlanta couldn't ask for the situation to be any better for them. As the eighth seed people expected little from them. They are playing loose, confident and with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

Teague has been the catalyst and finished with 22 points and 10 assists in Game 3. Atlanta needs Teague pushing the pace and attacking in the pick and roll to open up space on the wings for shooters like Kyle Korver who snapped out of a mini slump with 20 points on Thursday.

Game 4 is a golden opportunity for the Hawks. Win and the pressure becomes even more intense on Indiana as they try to avoid being just the sixth No. 1 seed all-time to lose to an eight seed. Lose and they are back to square one as the Pacers would regain home court advantage.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, April 26, 2:00 p.m.

Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

TV: TNT, SportSouth

Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM

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