That hand hovering over the panic button in Indianapolis, might be comfortably retreating after Tuesday’s win. For the first time in months, Indiana looked like the team was supposed to as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the prohibitive favorite to threaten and dethrone Miami as champions.
Those assumptions that the Pacers would make the Conference Finals can resume. At least, they can if you believe in Indiana’s ability to win on the road and put this kind of performance together again in back-to-back situations.
Indiana had that brutal beatdown of a home team desperate to win and avoid that 0-2 hole heading out to the road.
Paul George capitalized the 101-85 rout by taking a rebound and going the length of the floor for a pull-up 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer. George scored 27 points on 9-for-16 shooting, finally looking like the all star and MVP candidate he once was in this postseason. The responsibility was squarely on his shoulders. And he did not shrink.
Luis Scola scored 20 off the bench.
The Hawks simply could not keep up at the end of this one, falling behind in the third quarter and getting no space to recover. Paul Millsap scored 19 points. Atlanta shot just 39.2 percent.
This was the Indiana performance we expected in Game One. Maybe it took that embarrassment in the first game to wake them up and get them going. We may not know that until the Pacers get to Atlanta and play in Game Three.