Paul George and the Indiana Pacers have looked dominant through two games of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, winning by an average of 16.0 points. The Pacers will look to keep that up with the series shifting to Atlanta for Game 3 on Saturday night.
While Indiana has looked great thus far, it has lost 11 straight games at Philips Arena. The Hawks have been a much better home team all season, so they are hoping to receive a boost from playing in front of their fans. But in order for Atlanta to get back in this series, a lot is going to have to change on the court.
Will Larry Drew alter his starting lineup?
In the first two games, the Hawks started with a lineup of Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Al Horford. Drew hinted Friday that there may be changes coming, with Atlanta looking to go bigger against a Pacers team that has won the rebounding battle in both games. Since Zaza Pachulia is out for the season, Drew may turn to Johan Petro to start at center, which would slide Horford down to power forward and Smith to small forward. This would then allow Korver to come off the bench as a shooting spark, a role he's better suited for.
Can the Hawks stay out of foul trouble?
Just over two minutes into Game 2, Josh Smith picked up his second foul and had to head to the bench. Smith's whole night was marred by foul trouble, as he was only able to play 20 minutes. The Pacers shot 29 free throws to just 20 for the Hawks, this coming after a 34-14 margin in Game 1. If Atlanta is going to compete in this series, its best players need to stay on the floor, and it has to limit the amount of free throw opportunities for Indiana.
Can the Pacers' bench deliver again?
The Pacers' starting lineup can usually be trusted to perform well, but the bench has been erratic all season. That was not the case in Game 2, when Indiana's subs stepped up and outscored Atlanta's bench, 38-27. Gerald Green scored 15 points to lead the Pacers' bench brigade, with D.J. Augustin and Jeff Pendergraph chipping in eight points apiece. It could be another long night for Atlanta if Indiana's bench provides those types of contributions again.
Game time: 7 p.m. ET
National TV: ESPN
Local TV: Fox Sports South
Odds: The Hawks are 2-point favorites, according to Oddsshark.com.