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The Atlanta Hawks shocked the top-seeded Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their playoff series over the weekend. On Tuesday night, Indy got some much-needed revenge in a 101-85 victory as the series shifts to Atlanta.
There are plenty of reasons for the lopsided win — Paul George went off for 27 points. The Pacers got 38 points from their bench. Indiana shot better than 52 percent from the field while Atlanta knocked down only 39 percent off their attempts. The Pacers also won the rebounding battle.
There was one more thing that played into Indiana’s favor: Paul George covering Jeff Teague.
Teague lit up Indiana to the tune of 28 points in that opening Atlanta win against the Pacers’ backcourt. George had seen enough and was given the defensive assignment on him on Tuesday night. The result? A game where Teague was held much more in check.
The point guard didn’t have a bad night for the Hawks. All in all, he tallied 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting from the field. Teague led the Hawks in assists with four and topped all Atlanta starters in rebounding with five. Arguably, he was their best player for a second straight game. George, though, did his job, holding him below his season averages in scoring and assists, and he was also harassed into three turnovers.
Even more remarkable was the fact that the Pacers’ star was able to contribute so much on defense while being the focal point on offense. In a superb two-way effort, George scoring 27 points while taking a game-high 16 shots and covering Teague was remarkable. He continued to prove his worth and demonstrated why he’s one of the league’s top players.
Another reason for Indiana’s big win? A decisive third quarter — and George’s defense was again front and center.
The Pacers got off to another slow start, trailing by five at the end of the first quarter and by four at the half. Whatever head coach Frank Vogel said at halftime worked, though. Indiana went on to a dominant third quarter, winning it 31-13. The Hawks shot a dismal 5-20 from the field and the defense on Teague was a part of it. Teague had his worst quarter of the game, shooting only 1-4 and turning the ball over twice.
Whether or not George can continue being such an offensive factor while guarding Teague isn’t known. The plan worked perfectly in Game 2, though, and you can bet that Indiana will try it again.