No matter how you try to look at it, the big fat number has been there all postseason long as the Indiana Pacers (3-2) have battled the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
First it was eleven, then it was twelve, and after game four it was thirteen, as in thirteen games in a row the Pacers have lost at Philips Arena in Atlanta. Yet despite two double-digit losses to the Hawks in earlier in the series, Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel is staying cool, calm, and collective in his thoughts about his team traveling to Atlanta for game six on Friday night.
“I think psychologically you can’t look at thirteen in a row,” said Vogel on Thursday afternoon.
“Or that you lost two in a row. You have to look at it as the fact that they play a different brand of basketball at home. They are really, really good at home (25-16 during the regular season) and obviously we have made some adjustments to pour some sand on the fire as to what they did to us down there. Hopefully we will have a little bit better of a rotation, and a better plan. Every game is different, so you can’t look at what has happened in the past there.”
Every forty-eight minutes is different, but one can’t not find the similarities in every single battle the Hawks and Pacers have had during the postseason. During each contest the home team has not only won, but has won big, most recently the Pacers dominant 106-83 victory on Wednesday night.
The turning point of the contest seemed to come at the 6:48 mark when Josh Smith gathered his second foul of the game, and was substituted out for Ivan Johnson. Pacers forward David West, who had scored earlier in the quarter to make the tally 31-30 when Smith went to the bench, proceeded to score 10 of the Pacers next 11 points as the team eventually took a 50-43 lead that they only built on int he second half. West eventually led all Pacers scorers with 24 points and 5 rebounds, while Paul George had a double-double of 21 points, 10 boards and 5 assists.
Vogel understands that game six is going to play out differently no matter what.
“There is a lot of factors that go into each game that contribute,” said Vogel. “Like Josh Smith playing only 28 minutes because he is in foul trouble, we aren’t going to see that in game six. We can’t expect that. We still have a to play a better basketball game then we played last night to get a win in game six.”
The Pacers Head Coach did say that his team plans to continue to make adjustments to their style of play and rotations as they have done all series long, but he wouldn’t specifically talk about any parts of Indiana’s game-plan for Friday night.
However, Vogel did inform the media part of the team’s plan. They “definitely” will not be wearing black, as the New York Knicks had done Wednesday night in preparation of an elimination game with Boston, one the Knicks labeled as the Celtics funeral until New York ultimately lost.