NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: #3 Indiana Pacers vs #6 Atlanta Hawks

2013 NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
#3 Indiana Pacers vs #6 Atlanta Hawks
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: (odds courtesy of Bookmaker) Pacers -400 / Hawks +320
Game #1, Sunday, April 21, 2013, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Bankers Life Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, Indiana
Game #1 Opening Line: Indiana -7
Current Line: Indiana -6 1/2
Opening Total: 186
Current Total: 185 1/2
Opening Money Line: Pacers -290 / Hawks +240
Current Money Line: Pacers -300 / Hawks +250

The Pacers are -400 to beat teh Hawks in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals which begin Sunday in Indianapolis
The Pacers are -400 to beat the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals which begin Sunday in Indianapolis

The 49-32 Indiana Pacers won the Central Division by 4 1/2 games over the Chicago Bulls. The Pacers are the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference, the highest seed for Indiana since the 2003-04 season. Indiana will play the 44-38 Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Hawks finished second in the Southeast Division but they were 22 games behind the Miami Heat.

Indiana lost 3 straight games to close out the regular season but they were locked into the #3 seed. The Pacers had a game at the Boston Celtics that was canceled in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing Monday. The game wouldn’t have affected either teams playoff position and was not rescheduled. The Pacers lost at home Wednesday night 105-95 to the Philadelphia 76ers. Indiana rested David West, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert in that game.

Atlanta lost their last 2 games as well, despite having a chance to be the 5 seed instead of the 6 seed. The Hawks were a game up on the Chicago Bulls with 2 to play, but rested their starters in losses against the Toronto Raptors and at the New York Knicks to close out the season. Many have suggested the Hawks tanked to avoid being in Miami’s half of the bracket.

Indiana and Atlanta split the season series this year 2-2. Each team won both home games in the series. The Hawks won in Atlanta November 7 89-86 and December 29 109-100. The Pacers won in Indianapolis February 5 114-103 and March 25 100-94.

Atlanta is coached by Larry Drew. The Hawks are 37-43-2 ATS and the total is 42-39-1. Atlanta is outscoring teams 98-97.5 this season. The Hawks are shooting 46.4% from the field and 37.1% from 3 point range. Atlanta is #7 in both categories. The Hawks are #26 in free throw shooting at 71.5% from the line. Atlanta averages 40.9 rebounds per game and gives up 43.7 per game. The Hawks are 23rd or worse in both categories. Atlanta opponents are shooting 45% from the field and 37.9% from 3 point range. The Hawks are #28 in 3 point defense. Atlanta averages 24.5 assists, 8.1 steals, 4.5 blocks, and 14.3 turnovers per game.

Small forward Josh Smith averages 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game. He is probable with a knee injury. Center Al Horford averages 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. He is also probable with a shoulder injury.  Point guard Jeff Teague averages 14.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Louis Williams is out for the season with a knee injury after averaging 14 points in 39 games.  Guard Kyle Korver averages 10.9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Point guard Devin Harris averages 9.9 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. Ivan Johnson, John Jenkins, DeShawn Stevenson, and  Anthony Tolliver all get significant minutes as well. Center Zaza Pachulia is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

Indiana is coached by Frank Vogel. The Pacers are 42-39 ATS and the total is 38-42-1 this season. The Pacers are outscoring teams 95-91 this season. Indiana is second in the league in points allowed and #23 in scoring. The Pacers are shooting 43.6% from the field and 34.7% from 3 point range. Indiana is 22nd or worse in both categories. The Pacers make 74.6% of their free throws. Indiana leads the league in rebounding at 45.8 per game, and are #8 in rebounds allowed at 40.9. Indiana opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 32.7% from 3 point range. The Pacers lead the league in both categories. Indiana averages 20.3 assists, 7.2 steals, 6.3 blocks, and 14.5 turnovers.

Small forward Paul George averages 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Power forward David West averages 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block a game. Point guard George Hill averages 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Center Roy Hibbert averages 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Shooting guard Lance Stephenson averages 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1 steal a game. Tyler Hansbrough, Gerald Green, Ian Mahinmi, and D.J. Augustin make up the rest of the rotation. Indiana has had success despite All-Star forward Danny Granger missing all but 5 games with a knee injury.

Atlanta is 4-0 ATS in Sunday games, 6-2 in road games, 10-4 in conference quarterfinals games, 5-2 against Central Division teams, and against teams with winning home records, 3-7 against teams with winning records, 2-5 on 3 or more days rest, 2-8 overall, 1-6 after failing to cover, and 1-8 against Eastern Conference teams. The over is 4-1 over all in this series and in games played in Indianapolis. The Hawks have covered 10 of the last 14 against Indiana.

Indiana is 9-4 ATS on 3 or more days rest, 4-12-1 after a double digit home loss, 2-9 against teams with losing records, 0-8 in Sunday games, 0-7 against Eastern Conference teams, 0-6 overall, 0-5 after failing to cover, after a loss, and at home. The favorite is 19-7 ATS and the home team is 17-7 in this series recently.

It is hard to read much into both teams struggles down the stretch as they both rested their starters for the playoffs. All four games between the teams  were close and were in doubt in the fourth quarter. Indiana’s defense will be the difference in the series, and I like the Pacers in 6 games.

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