INDIANAPOLIS – A season ago it was a different feeling-or was it.
Instead of a relatively solid Game One win in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals as they had Sunday, the Pacers were down a game after dropping the 2011 postseason opener at home to Orlando in front of a two-thirds full Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The message for the team that day was to dismiss the result in for the sake of the greater series. It worked as Frank Vogel’s team swept the next four games to win their first playoff series since 2005.
One year-and a 17-point first game win over the Hawks later-the message remains the same even if the circumstances have not.
“I think it was behind us by the time we got back to the locker room,” said Vogel of the Game One victory-though he did acknowledge he liked what he saw on tape in the 107-90 win on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “They understand what the NBA Playoffs are all about. Momentum can shift dramatically with one game and you have to take care of your home court.”
Paul George says he is buying into the “Forget It” mentality even if it might be tough for him to do so. For just the second time in Pacers NBA Playoff history, the forward recorded a triple-double as he scored at team-high 23 points along with 12 assists and 11 rebounds.
“You’ve really got to throw that game out,” said George of Game One. “I know they are going to change-up a lot of their things, bring a lot of intensity to the game. I know their coaches are on them, know they’ve got to do a better job of getting to the line and being more physical with us.
“We’ve just got to expect more out of them.”
With that in mind the Pacers believe they will have to keep playing the way which led to success in Game One. Of their 78 shots on the game, 59 came inside the three-point line with a majority coming on drives or offensive rebounds. The Pacers won that battle 15-6 and the overall rebounding count 48-32 and their aggressive play inside helped them to shoot 34 free throws on the game-30 of which they made.
“They guys that we have are attackers, our post players are attackers, are perimeter players are attackers and we have to just make sure we’re ready to make the extra pass,” said Vogel of the team’s mentality on offense. “It’s what we’ve preached, we’ve talked about every day, offensive physicality and attacking the basket and living at the free throw line.”
Tyler Hansbrough could help Pacers should the Hawks ramp up the physicality in response to Game One. Up-and-down this season coming off the bench, Hansbrough collected five offensive rebounds and nine points and played a major role in the team pulling away in the fourth quarter.
“We’re playoff experienced the past couple of years so we know what it’s about and we’ve got to bring it,” said Hansbrough.
They’ll do so, regardless if it was a “W” or “L” after the postseason opener.