Shootaround: A Prepare-for-Anything Mentality in Game 5
The Pacers know tonight’s Game 5 in their best-of-seven series with the Atlanta Hawks is a pivotal one. After dropping the last two games, both in Atlanta, the team has the urgency to get back on track and re-establish themselves. Entering this postseason, there were 166 instances when teams were tied 2-2 in a best-of-7 series. The team that won Game 5 ended up taking the series 83 percent of the time (138 times).
“We’re having a prepare-for-anything mentality,” coach Frank Vogel said after morning shootaround. “We will shift some things around to obviously try to limit what they’re doing in the second quarter with the runs they made in Games 3 and 4.”
Whichever team has led after the first 12 minutes in each of the first four games has held on and been victorious.
After shootaround, Vogel and Paul George leaned against the scorer’s table and had a discussion. ”We were just talking about how to best utilize him offensively so he can take advantage of the matchups that are on him,” Vogel explained. “When he’s got Josh Smith on him, he’s got to attack a little differently than when Devin Harris is on him.”
Smith went off for a new playoff career-high 29 points in Game 4 and though George finished with a double-double himself, he wasn’t happy with his performance. Tonight for him – and the team – it’s getting back to what they do best: Defending, attacking and playing sound basketball. They were the league’s-best defense in the regular season, but in the playoffs not so much.
“It’s being in full attack mode,” George said. “We got to do a better job of attacking, getting guys in foul trouble and really living at the free throw line.” That’s what they did in Game 1, attempting a total of 34 foul shots. The Pacers are happy to back in the confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where they feel a different level of energy.
The Hawks, much more upbeat than when they left here, appear to be a much different team. After the first pair of games, they looked dejected, but that isn’t the case anymore. At shootaround, guys were focused yet fired up for tonight’s game (8 PM EST). Hawks head coach Larry Drew emphasized that like the Pacers, energy is key.
“I think confidence is only part of it,” he said. “I think the fact that at home, we played with some energy. We had our lapses at certain portions of the game but I think for the most part, we were able to play with a lot of energy.”
In Games 1 and 2, in which the Hawks lost by an average of 16 points, coach Drew also didn’t like his team’s body language and how they spent time worrying about about the calls, or lack thereof.
“[We] weren’t aggressive and complained about all the calls. “That hurt us a lot. You have to play through all calls. We can’t let that be a reason that we don’t play well. That’s our demise. We have to be a smarter team. We have to play through all calls. We have to come out and play with physicality.”
For those in Indiana, Game 5 can be seen on FOX Sports Indiana with the usual cast. Nationally, the game will air on NBA TV.