Scott made five three-pointers in the second quarter, scored 17 points and Atlanta outscored Indiana 41-19 to take a commanding lead. That lead grew to as many as 30 points before a late run by the Pacers made the final score respectable. Scott's second quarter performance left his head coach rather speechless in the post game press conference when he was asked to explain the outburst.
"I can't," said Mike Budenholzer. "If you could explain it, you'd bottle it up."
Scott didn't score a point after the second quarter but he and fellow reserve Shelvin Mack combined for 30 in the period. Atlanta's bench outscored Indiana's 45-23 as the Hawks continue to get contributions from a variety of places. Mack went on to finish with a playoff career-high 20 points. According to Scott, nothing really changed in Game 5, he just made shots.
"It's the same game plan we've been using all year, spread them out and run the pick-and-roll game or the pick-and-pop game," said Scott. "They were worried about Mack and I was able to get loose for some good looks. And then they were just heat-check shots."
"We can play with this team," Scott said. "They're a great team, especially at home, great players, great coach, but we have a belief in ourselves as well."
That belief in themselves has paid off. The Hawks were a virtual afterthought entering the playoffs despite Indiana's struggles to end the season. Atlanta suffered disappointing losses in both Games 2 & 4 but managed to move on and put up solid games next time out. That is the mark of a good team and the Hawks have done that.
DeMarre Carroll said earlier in the series that Atlanta wasn't your typical eight seed and that is very true. If not for a season ending injury to Al Horford and a rash of injuries to the rest of the roster in January and February this team would have finished much higher in the standings.
What we have seen from these Hawks in this series is a belief that if they play their game and get the shots they want then more times than not they will win. If they have a setback they move on and haven't waivered. Now contrast that with what you see from the Pacers who were the best defensive team in the league during the regular season but have struggled so badly that head coach Frank Vogel is searching every game for a contribution that works.
As our own Jason Walker reminded us after Game 3, there is still work left to be done. While the Hawks dominated portions of Game 5 they also had to hold on at the end as Indiana finally began to show some desperation. Which Pacers team will show up in Game 6? The one that is desperate or the one that looks like they are tired of this season?
For Atlanta it's a golden opportunity. They are still playing with house money in a sense because the story is still more about the struggles of Indiana rather than the play of the Hawks. That is just fine for Budenholzer and his team as they are more than content with continuing to fly under the radar.