Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

April 21, 2014

Pacers seeking solution for Hawks 3-point shooters

INDIANAPOLIS — Atlanta’s spread offense is forcing the Pacers to scramble.

All-Star Paul George acknowledged he’s likely to spend at least some time defending Hawks point guard Jeff Teague on Tuesday night, though it remains unclear how long he’ll keep that assignment in Game 2 or whether the plan could change again before tip-off.

What is clear: Indiana must slow down Teague, a challenge George has already embraced.

“I would love to, just to change it up a little bit and give him a different look,” George said after the Pacers practiced Sunday.

George said he and coach Frank Vogel discussed the defensive assignment Sunday, though Vogel declined to confirm the move or any other changes he might make now that the top-seeded Pacers trail Atlanta 1-0 in the first-round series.

Solving the Teague headache is Indiana’s top priority during this two-day break.

Two weeks ago, Teague torched his hometown team for 25 points in a 107-88 victory as Atlanta became the second Eastern Conference team to win at Indiana this season. On Saturday night, he was even better — scoring a playoff career-high 28 points and dishing out five assists as Atlanta won 101-93 and became the first opponent with two wins this season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The emergence of the Hawks’ 6-foot-2 point guard has changed the whole image of a series the top-seeded Pacers were expected to win rather handily.

Instead, the Hawks kept the Pacers on their heels. Indiana now faces what Roy Hibbert dubbed a must-win Game 2 before the series shifts to Atlanta, where the Pacers have only two wins since December 2006.

The Hawks, who now lead the season series 3-2, have been a matchup nightmare for Indiana this season.

But that’s only part of the problem.

Since March 1, the Pacers are just 12-14, and they’ve spent most of that time trying to plug holes in what had been the league’s stingiest defense while playing through an offensive slump.

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