The Indiana Pacers know the opportunity is there. They know the Atlanta Hawks are a fragile team that can be shook easily. The Pacers can protect their home court Wednesday and send the Hawks back to Atlanta down 2-0 with even more questions than they already have. It’s just a matter of which Pacers team shows up for Game 2 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse: the one that won Game 1 by 17 points or the one that had the tendency to have a letdown after success during the regular season? “Momentum can shift dramatically with one game, and you have to take care of your home court,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “I think (the players) have to understand that Game 2 is going to be much harder.” The Pacers’ impressive Game 1 victory no longer means anything. The players can look at the Brooklyn-Chicago series if they need further proof. The Nets beat the Bulls by 17 points at home in Game 1, only to turn around and lose their home-court edge by dropping Game 2. If the Pacers lose Wednesday, home-court advantage belongs to the Hawks. Indiana will have to wait two days for an opportunity to get it back, and then it won’t be easy; the Pacers have lost 11 in a row at Atlanta. That makes winning Game 2 even more important. “We have to throw Game 1 out,” said swingman Paul George, the NBA’s Most Improved Player. “We have to protect our home court.” The Pacers watched the video from their Game 1 victory Monday, then immediately turned their attention to Wednesday’s game. A playoff series is about countermoves. The Pacers know the Hawks will try to match their physicality. The Hawks, who returned to Atlanta after Sunday’s game, went with a small starting lineup in the opener that included 6-7, 212-pound Kyle Korver in the frontcourt with Josh Smith and Al Horford in an attempt to get the Pacers to play more up tempo.
Which Pacers team will show up? The Game 1 version or a letdown?
Indianapolis Star | Apr 24