After two losses to the Indiana Pacers by an average of 16 points, the Atlanta Hawks returned to Philips Arena and turned the tables. Down 2-0, they beat up Indiana to take Game 3 by a score of 90-69, and all of a sudden they're in position to even the series on Monday night.
The Pacers are now on their heels, and they must punch back by making the adjustments to shadow Atlanta's own. And if the chess match isn't enough, Frank Vogel and his team must simply play with more efficiency than they did in the Game 3 loss.
What will the outcome of Game 4 hinge upon?
Who's the bully?
Hawks coach Larry Drew changed the series by altering his rotation. That key ingredient to Saturday's win was the move of Johan Petro to the starting center spot, which slid Al Horford to the power forward position. Not only did that give Atlanta the ability to defend Roy Hibbert more aggressively and without worrying about Horford finding himself in foul trouble, but the move caused Indiana to find itself struggling to defend Horford, who went for 26 points and 16 rebounds.
Ivan Johnson came off the bench to physically abuse the Pacers, and the first and second units of the Indiana frontcourt all found themselves with at least four fouls apiece by the end of the night, a sign of Atlanta's aggression. Simply put, the matchups went in the Hawks' favor, but the attitude adjustment did wonders as well.
Will the Pacers find their offense?
Here are the straight numbers for the Pacers from Game 3: 27 percent shooting from the floor, 16 percent beyond the arc and 22 turnovers leading to 24 Hawks points. Indiana simply struggled in what might as well be labeled a curse of Philips Arena. Paul George (16 points) and David West (18 points) got theirs, but the Hawks did a fine job of limiting their opportunities while the supporting cast of the Pacers struggled.
The starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson struggled especially, shooting 2-for-15 from the floor, and backup point guard D.J. Augustin went 0-for-5 to boot. The Pacers must get back into playing smart basketball, not force the issue, and thus limit turnovers.
Can Indiana confuse Horford?
The Pacers will likely see another heavy dose of Horford on the block on Monday, and the trick now will be deciding how to handle him. Do they send double-teams his way considering he's a smart and willing passer? Do they mix up coverages to get Horford thinking?
Whatever it may be, expect Vogel to have an answer, but it'll be up to the players to make the right decisions and then the right rotations and efforts in close-outs if Horford does indeed start passing it out of the post.
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds: The Hawks opened as 1.5-point favorites.