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Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers Game 2 NBA Preview & Free Pick

Hawks vs Pacers NBA Handicapping

Minutes don’t matter a lot in the playoffs. Adrenaline is flowing, the games finally mean something and there is usually ample rest between battles.

Eastern Conference
 Atlanta Hawks (0-1) at Indiana Pacers (1-0)
Wednesday, April 24
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
7:30 p.m. EST
Spread – Pacers -7 at TopBet
O/U – 187

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So Indiana isn’t all that concerned that its horses logged some heavy PT in Game 1 of the Pacers’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series against the Hawks. Paul George was on the court for 44 minutes, Lance Stephenson 41 and George Hill 37 on the way to a comfortable victory.

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The Pacers, who were beaten by the Hawks in a few statistical categories but had an overwhelming edge at the free throw line (30 for 34 to the Hawks’ 7 for 14), will try again to take the game to Atlanta when Game 2 gets under way tonight in Indianapolis.

Larry Drew shouldn’t have been surprised by his team’s Game 1 nonchalance after watching his Hawks go through yet another up-and-down season. But he was still spitting post-game bullets:
“That team physically manhandled us,” Drew said of the Pacers. “This is playoff basketball. That cannot happen. Absolutely cannot happen.”

Actually, it can. And did.

George was an animal all night, dropping a triple-double (23 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds) on the Hawks. Atlanta knew that the offense would flow through George just about every set, and the Hawks were unwilling or unable (or both) to do much about it. Indiana took an 8-point lead after one period, dominated the third and let the crowd head home early. [ad-6571516]

Atlanta has to figure out a way to get its starters engaged tonight in Game 2. Al Horford, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and Devin Harris were dominated by Indiana starters at the start of the game and in the third period. The Hawks’ bench is just not deep enough or talented enough to come into a game and sweep up shattered glass night after night.

Indiana, meanwhile, is no doubt delighted to get Game 1 in the bank after losing 5 of its last 7 regular-season games and causing its fan base to wonder just where the players’ heads were heading into the playoffs. After dominating Game 1, everyone is smiling again.

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This smells like a home-court series that will go 6 or 7 games, and we can’t see the Pacers letting down in Game 2. Besides the fact that you never know if Smith will throw up a 6-for-19 night and miss a bunch of threes, the Hawks have to be concerned with Horford, who suffered a sprained ankle in Game 1.

Horford already gives up nearly half a foot to the 7-foot-3 Roy Hibbert, and if his ankle is less than 100 percent, the Hawks’ avenue to victory is extremely narrow.

Pacers to cover the 7 and go up 2-0, and if you don’t like that, an under play is worth a look as we assume the Hawks will decide to dig in a little more than they did a few days ago.

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