Its been a tough two days of practice for the Atlanta Hawks in the wake of Sunday's 107-90, Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Head coach Larry Drew certainly didn't pull any punches when he publicly questioned his teams' toughness when he said Atlanta was "manhandled" by the Pacers.
Drew elected to go with a small lineup in Game 1 in an effort to push the ball up the court on offense and get into the Hawks' running game. They started well but it never materialized and they had a difficult time adjusting. Paul George feasted on his matchup against Kyle Korver and DeShawn Stevenson on his way to a playoff triple-double.
Drew didn't rule out a change to the lineup but he didn't make any promises there either. Priority No. 1 seems to be slowing down George and he may have to put Josh Smith on him to do that. That would suggest that perhaps Ivan Johnson or Johan Petro could move into the starting lineup or at least see their roles increase in Game 2. Drew could also elect to give Dahntay Jones, who played only garbage minutes in Game 1, a shot against George.
The Pacers physicality never allowed the Hawks to get comfortable offensively Game 1 and that must improve if they are going to have any chance at all in the series. It might serve Drew well to also approach this game with a little more sense of urgency than he did in Game 1 where Al Horford was limited to just 28 minutes of playing time. For the Hawks to have any chance at pulling an upset over a very good Indiana team they will have to get big contributions from Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague and those guys will have to be on the floor to make that happen. Game 3 isn't until Saturday so there should be no concern about any of those players logging major minutes.
When those players are on the floor then they are going to have to make it happen and quit worrying about what the officials did or didn't call. All too often recently we haven't seen this Hawks team respond to adversity well. A streak where a high level defensive team has clamped down too often frustrates Atlanta and leads to turnovers and forced long jump shots. The veterans on this Hawks team that have playoff experience have to combat against that or the reality is this is going to be a quick series.
11/7 - Hawks 89, Pacers 86 - Recap
12/29 - Hawks 109, Pacers 100 - Recap
2/5 - Pacers 114, Hawks 103 - Recap
3/25, Pacers 100, Hawks 94 - Recap
4/21, Game 1, Pacers 107, Hawks 90 - Game 1 coverage
Game date/time: Wednesday, April 24, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
TV: NBATV, Fox Sports South
Radio: NBA Audio League Pass, Sirius XM
Odds: The Hawks are seven point underdogs on the road in Game 2 against the Pacers