The Atlanta Hawks saw Game 4 slip away late and home court advantage with it thanks to an unlikely three pointer from David West and lack of offensive execution down the stretch. The Hawks put themselves in position to win the game but when winning time came it was the Pacers who stepped to the front.
"Our group competed tonight and put themselves in position to win," said head coach Mike Budenholzer following the game. "Our execution wasn't where it needed to be and we'll all work on that to look to improve as we execute down the stretch. Defensively, there are a lot of positives. Both teams hit some tough shots and made some big plays. We just need to get more efficient offensively and get better execution offensively. If we can keep competing like we competed tonight that's what we're looking for."
Atlanta made just 28 percent of its field goal attempts in the second half. Part of that goes to the lack of execution that Budenholzer talked about but a lot of that goes to the quality of Indiana's defense. The Pacers have struggled for over a month but they are still a very talented and very capable team. Its their consistency that has been lacking.
"It's always important to give them credit," said Budenholzer. "They're a good defensive team. Individually, they've got some guys that are good. It's what we've been seeing for four games now. We have to screen better. We have to attack more. All the things that we've been stressing. Hopefully that will reduce our turnovers and make us more efficient."
As Jeff Teague has gone so has the Hawks in this series. Teague finished with 14 points and seven assists but was just 5-15 from the floor. I'm not going to put blame for the loss on Teague's shoulders but typically the Hawks need more from him if they are going to be successful. Atlanta spent a lot of time playing through Paul Millsap who scored a playoff career-best 29 points but Indiana's defense keyed in on him down the stretch. To take advantage of their spread offense the Hawks need to play with tempo and get up and down the floor. That usually starts and ends with Teague.
The series shifts back to Indiana for Game 5 on Monday and morphs into a best of three with the Pacers holding home court advantage. While homecourt is key and Atlanta just had two amazing crowds at Philips Arena it might not be the deciding factor in this series. The consistency issues with Indiana that I spoke about earlier are still a problem and Atlanta is still playing with house money as the eighth seed. The pressure is still on Indiana and they are the ones that are tinkering with rotations and searching for answers while the Hawks are simply going out and playing.
"I think we're still a confident group," said Millsap. "We let one slip away here. We showed that we can go and compete in the games up there. That's what our mindset is now. We have to let this one go and get ready for Monday."