Augustin presses on in Vogel’s new wrinkle
Pacers coach Frank Vogel promised new wrinkles for Game 5 of his team’s playoff series with Atlanta, telling reporters before the game “we have a few things up our sleeve.”
That set off some conjecture among the media of what that might be, but nobody guessed what it was. Jeff Pendergraph, for one, got a first-quarter call to defend Atlanta’s primary scoring threat, Josh Smith, and coaxed a couple of misses out of him. More surprisingly and influentially, D.J. Augustin played more than 25 minutes – all over the final three periods – as Vogel went with a three-guard lineup.
“I spent the last 48 hours playing with different match-ups in my head – as my wife will attest,” Vogel said. “And my coaching staff will attest to it, too. We looked at every single combination just to try to figure out the best way to guard these guys … and to make sure we’re still scoring the ball, too.”
Augustin missed his first four shots, three of them three-pointers, before finally dropping a three-pointer with 44.8 seconds left in the half to give the Pacers a nine-point lead. He missed two more three-pointers in the third period, and another early in the fourth before finally hitting a couple in the final four minutes, when the outcome was well in hand.
His stat line wasn’t staggering: 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-9 three-point shooting. His presence made a difference, though, because it altered the match-ups to a more favorabe setting for the Pacers. Vogel went with a three-guard lineup much of the second half, playing Augustin with starting guards George Hill and Lance Stephenson.
Augustin also went 25 minutes, 22 seconds without a turnover and was a primary reason the Pacers committed just nine over the final three periods. And, he was a factor in the Pacers’ successful defense of Atlanta’s starting backcourt. Jeff Teague and Devin Harris combined to hit just 6-of-25 shots.
Augustin’s biggest fan was Hill, the point guard who is still trying to grow accustomed to playing point guard.
“It makes me be a little more aggressive, because I’m off the ball more,” said Hill, who finished with 15 points, 10 assists and one turnover. “I enjoy playing with D.J. I’ve been a (shooting guard) my whole life until I got to the NBA. I’m trying to become a (point guard), which is tough. I’ll eventually get there.
“We have to continue to do that. With that lineup, it opens up a whole bunch of opportunities for other guys to get shots because we have another creator.”
Augustin said he thought about shutting down his three-point shooting after missing his first three attempts, but kept taking the opportunities that arose. He hopes the boost he got from hitting his final two will carry over to Friday’s game in Atlanta.
“Sometimes it creeps in your head (to stop shooting),” he said. “You have to block it out and just keep shooting.
“Whenever you’re making shots your confidence is up, so it feels good. You just have to keep it going.”