The last Indiana Pacers game I attended this season was against the Timberwolves two weeks ago. Mind you it was Pre-Lance, but it was a uninspiring game to witness in person.
After the Lance Stephenson acquisition, the 4-game win streak, the playoff race; I knew I had to attend the last game of the season Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. (Thank you for injecting life into this team Paul and Lance.)
Most Pacers fans knew what was at stake. A race for the 7 through 9 seeds dwindled down to three teams and two playoff spots. A Pacers win, and they were in the Playoffs with the 7th seed. A loss, and they would need either a loss from the Bulls (vs Nets) or the Heat (vs Wizards). Turns out, both those teams trailing the Pacers won on Wednesday so the Pacers had to come up with a victory if they wanted this season to continue.
Thankfully the Hawks had already locked up their playoff spot and decided to rest their usual starters. Take a look at this Hawks starting lineup and I dare you not to say, “Who?” at least once.
Jose Calderon (Still in the league!), DeAndre Bembry, Kris Humphries (also still in the league?), Ersan Illyasova, and Taurean Prince. We’ll call them the B-Team. No Millsap, Hardaway, Dennis, Bazemore or Howard. Thank you Hawks.
The game was relatively close through the first quarter with the Pacers having a slight advantage and stayed that way through the second. But the Pacers came out of Halftime on a mission to wrap up their playoff berth. The Pacers lead by as much as 18 pts. The Pacers were lead in scoring by Paul George’s 32 pts and 11 rebs (ALL NBA!) and 19 / 18 pts respectively from Jeff Teague and Myles Turner.
Jeff Teague appeared to roll his ankle late in the fourth, but came out after the game to sign autographs. The assumption is it is not serious, fingers crossed.
Atlanta was paced by Illyasova’s 15 pts. The Hawks B-Team put up a fight near the end to bring the lead down to 9 in the 3rd, but the Pacers rallied back behind their fearless leader. The Pacers continue to have trouble defending the 3-point line giving up open 3s. PG ended the season with career highs in points (23.7 ppg), field goal percentage (46.1%), 3-point percentage (39.4%), and free-throw percentage (89.8%). Someone wants that ALL NBA spot.
Highlight of the game. Watching the budding relationship between Kevin Seraphin and Lance Stephenson running the pick’n roll. It could be a force going forward. Oh and count’em. Two whole TEAGUES on the Teague counter for drawing fouls on jump shots.
Tune in Saturday at 3pm on ABC (PRIMETIME!) as the Pacers travel to Cleveland to play LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Here we go.