In what was somewhat deja vu for the Hawks, the Indiana Pacers came-from-behind Thursday night for a 95-88 win to force a Game 7 on Saturday. Atlanta led by five points with 3:16 remaining but Indiana finished the game with a 16-4 run to capture the win.
"It was a game where we didn't play our best," said head coach Mike Budenholzer. "Give Indiana credit. We still put ourselves in a position to win a game when we didn't play our best on either end. That's the challenge going forward. We need to execute better defensively and we need to execute better offensively. Our group has done that time and time again. That's the challenge for our group going into Game 7 - to execute on both ends of the court and have the activity, competitiveness, the togetherness that it is going to take. That is what playoff basketball is about."
Both teams have done a good job responding to losses in the series. Since Atlanta won Game 1 they have alternated victories. Still Game 7 will be held in Indiana and the Hawks saw a golden opportunity slip away in Game 6 in front of a raucous crowd at Philips Arena. The situation was eerily similar to Atlanta's Game 4 loss.
The Hawks shot just 36 percent for the game and it was a struggle the entire night on offense. Atlanta is going to take a lot of threes in most games but they have to strike a delicate balance of attacking the paint to in an effort to open up the perimeter. The Hawks were just 9-35 from beyond-the-arc in Game 6.
"We always want to attack the basket first," said Budenholzer. "We want to get to the rim. We want to attack the paint and have great spacing and have great opportunities for our shooters. We'll go back and look at the film. Right now I don't feel like the shots necessarily weren't what we were looking for. I think our execution, we had a couple of turnovers, wasn't where we needed it to be."
Indiana made some adjustments in Game 6 which included going smaller and a reduced role for Roy Hibbert but the biggest difference was the added contributions by David West who logged a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds. West scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and the Hawks had no answer with Paul Millsap having picked up five fouls.
Game 7 is Saturday in Indianapolis and will tip off at 5:30 p.m. on TNT. SportSouth and 92.9 The Game will once again handle local coverage.