The Hawks have shown the sum of the parts can outshine individual greatness. Four players have scored at least 20 points in a game during the series. Seven players in the nine-man rotation have contributed at least one double-figure performance against the Pacers.
“There are very, very few teams who just win because they have the best talent,” Korver said. “The good teams in the NBA have great systems. Even Miami has a great system, even though they also have great players.”
Carroll would hardly be described as a great player — he’s on his fifth NBA team and already has been waived twice — but he’s flourished with the Hawks, averaging 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in the playoffs.
“When you have a great system, you can go get players who fit the system,” Korver said. “Everybody in the NBA can play, but until you get the right opportunity and the right fit, it doesn’t really work.”
The Hawks are positioned to become only the sixth No. 8 seed in NBA history to knock off a top seed in the opening round of the playoffs, surely the most surprising performance in a postseason already filled with dramatic moments.
“They do a great job,” Indiana’s David West said. “They have a good team, the way they cut, the way they play. Their coach is a San Antonio guy, so they mimic what San Antonio does.”
Regarded as one of the NBA’s top defensive teams, the bulky Pacers are clearly befuddled at how to stop the Hawks, who use every inch of the court and keep defenses from packing the lane by letting pretty much anyone hoist a 3-pointer.
“It’s just different,” Pacers star Paul George said. “They spread us out and we’re used to packing it in the paint, playing big, playing physical. But it’s like playing pickup ball against them with five perimeter guys.”