The Indiana Pacers look to ride the momentum of a signature victory in their last outing into Friday’s road game against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Pacers responded to last season’s unceremonious first-round sweep at the hands of Boston by posting a 122-117 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday.
“One of our problems all season has been closing out these games against elite teams. (On Wednesday), we were able to do that, so it will definitely help our confidence,” Indiana guard Malcolm Brogdon told reporters after scoring 29 points.
Brogdon showed his confidence at the free-throw line, making all 15 of his attempts — including eight in the final 1:59 of the contest. The overall performance was the best from the stripe by a Pacer since Danny Granger made all 16 of his attempts on March 1, 2011.
Brogdon was also pretty sure of himself in a 105-104 overtime victory over the Hawks on Nov. 29, as the Georgia native scored 16 points to join the rest of the starters in double figures.
The Pacers overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and a career high-tying 49-point performance from Trae Young to record their sixth straight win in the series.
Indiana also bounced back from a 10-point deficit versus the Celtics due in large part to the late kick provided by the Holiday brothers, who combined for 20 of the team’s 38 fourth-quarter points (11 for Aaron Holiday and nine for Justin).
“We were really calm and took our time. We had guys that were open, and everybody just made plays,” said Justin Holiday, who finished with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals.
“I think it all came from our defense. Our defensive intensity and how locked in we were in the fourth quarter was huge for us and it just translated to the offense.”
The pair wasn’t as effective in the last meeting with Atlanta, combining to shoot 4 of 14 from the floor for nine points.
Young told a different story in that contest, making eight 3-pointers and all nine of his free-throw attempts to keep the Hawks right in the thick of it. Unfortunately for Atlanta, the rest of the team shot just 37.1 percent (23 of 62) from the floor.
Young has continued to excel in the midst of the Hawks’ troubles, as he collected 15 points and a season high-tying 13 assists for his eighth double-double of the season in Wednesday’s 136-102 setback to Chicago.
Alex Len has rebounded from a sluggish start to the season by showing consistency over the last seven games, shooting 68.3 percent from the floor (41 of 60) in that stretch.
“He’s finding his rhythm around the basket,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said of Len, who finished with a team-high 17 points against the Bulls. “All of his baskets early on came at the rim, dunks off the rolls, drop-offs from penetration and then he’s able to get his threes going, he had another three (Wednesday). But I think he established himself just by rolling to the rim and being around the basket and getting something easy.”
Atlanta didn’t help itself with 23 turnovers, which is one shy of its season high. Nine were committed in the fourth quarter as the Hawks fell for the 19th time in 23 games.
–Field Level Media