Pacers shine defensively to defeat Hawks in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Paul Abell

After averaging 98 points in the regular season, the Pacers held the Hawks to just 87.5 points a night as they advanced in six games.

The Indiana Pacers were arguably the best defensive team in the NBA this past season. Facing an Atlanta Hawks team with plenty of scorers on the roster, the Pacers displayed just how good they were defensively yet again in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Indiana held the Hawks to 89.3 points per game in the series after Atlanta averaged 98 points per game during the regular season. In Games 5 and 6, Atlanta averaged just 78 points. When you consider one of those games were played in Atlanta, it really is a testament to coach Frank Vogel and what the Pacers have been able to do on the defensive end.

If there was an aspect of Indiana's defense that got exposed in the series, it was their pick-and-roll defense. The Hawks exploited it in Games 3 and 4, and it led to wins. The Pacers made adjustments by playing Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph more, and it paid off on the defensive end.

Next up for the Pacers will be a tough series with the New York Knicks. Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and crew can score a lot of points in a hurry, averaging 100 a night during the regular season.

It will be imperative that Indiana controls the pace of the game if the Pacers hope to advance to the conference finals. Look for Vogel and the coaching staff to have their team prepared on the defensive end Sunday afternoon in New York, just like they've done all year long.

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