Pacers hold serve at home, beat Hawks for 3-2 series lead
INDIANAPOLIS – George Hill was preaching to the choir on Tuesday when he said that home court advantage was a key for most teams in the NBA Playoffs.
Wednesday would prove that he was speaking the truth, once again in decisive fashion.
The Pacers looked like themselves back at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in front of a near capacity crowd as a strong second half led to a 106-83 victory over the Hawks in Game Five of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.
For the first time in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Pacers will play a closeout game as they take a 3-2 series lead to Atlanta for Game Six on Friday night.
David West led the Pacers with 24 points while Paul George added 21 points and ten rebounds. Roy Hibbert also contributed 18 points while Hill put in 15 as the Pacers remain undefeated at home in the playoffs, winning every game by double digits.
Unlike their two losses to the Hawks away from home the Pacers were aggressive in the first half against an Atlanta team that again threw its big lineup against Frank Vogel’s team. Despite trailing by one after the first quarter the Pacers were undaunted and outscored the Hawks 29-21 in the second quarter, going up by as many as nine on a three-pointer by D.J. Augustin late in the half.
They would maintain an eight-point advantage heading to halftime, a far cry from the deficits of 24 and 17 points they faced in the Game Three and Four losses in Atlanta.
As they did in Games One and Two at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers saved their best for the third quarter. A quick 7-1 run by the Pacers pushed the lead quickly to 13 points and the team was off and running after that. Hill proved to be a major catalyst for the third quarter effort as he scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. His 19-foot jumper with just over five minutes to go in the quarter got the Pacers lead up to 20 and it was at 14 when the quarter came to a close.
The fourth quarter was even more dominant as the Pacers outscored the Hawks 25-16 with a combination of starters and players off the bench who now have the Pacers just one win from advancing to the second round.