3 Things to Like and Dislike From Pacers' Win Against Hawks

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Pacers aimed to close out a three-game road trip with the final stop being in Atlanta to take on the Hawks. Indiana came out on top with 125-113 being the final score.

It was a sluggish start offensively for both teams. Neither team was converting from beyond the arc and was unable to create much separation on the scoreboard. At halftime, Indiana held a narrow 62-58 advantage over Atlanta. 

The worst quarter of the Pacers' performance came in the third as their offense encountered a real slump. Indiana scored only 22 points in the frame while the Hawks stayed steady enough to hold a 87-84 lead entering the final period. 

Neither team managed to take complete control of the outcome of this game until the fourth quarter. Indiana used a staggering 41-point frame to pull away from the Hawks in the end. 

Here are three things to like and dislike from Saturday's win:

LIKE: Neutralize Trae Young's Scoring

The Pacers made it a clear emphasis to neutralize Trae Young in this game. Whether it was using full-court ball pressure or a box-and-one scheme, there was always something ready to make him uncomfortable. Indiana held Young to 15 points on 3-of-9 (33.3%) from the floor.

One of the major limitations to this Hawks team in the Young era has been their lack of supporting cast players that can also get downhill and make positive plays. That's why adding Bogdan Bogdanovic was such a big deal...and why not having him healthy is, too.

With all of the injuries the Hawks have faced, there isn't a secondary playmaker on the floor that can run high ball screens or break down a defender off the dribble. The Pacers used this to their advantage and forced Young to become a passer and hunt for shooting fouls. 

DISLIKE: Defensive Execution Against Wings

With Trae Young being the focus of the Pacers' defensive gameplan, it was up to the Hawks' supporting cast talents to step up and make plays off the catch. Cam Reddish and Danilo Gallinari were able to do this and did but in different ways. Both players combined to score 38 points and shoot 7-of-15 (46.7%) from deep.

The Pacers' defense has shown limitations with its ability to run out to shooters and pressure the release and contain dribble penetration when a player tries to drive off the catch. Both aspects were taken full advantage of by Cam Reddish due to his shooting ability and athleticism. 

Danilo Gallinari doesn't have the athleticism of Reddish but he took advantage of being given too much space to get his shot off. He was also a key play finisher near the basket within the gaps of the Pacers' zone schemes. 

LIKE: Myles Turner With the Bench

One of the frequent fixtures in previous 'three things to like and dislike' lists was how Myles Turner was thriving with the bench unit. That group was rolling until Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren began increasingly giving minutes to Goga Bitadze. 

There isn't much of a role for Turner offensively when he's playing alongside the starters. There's often too much tunnel-visioned focus from Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon while Turner is relegated to standing and watching the play. 

With the bench group, TJ McConnell pushes the pace and utilizes the height and length advantage that Turner brings against backups. This often leads to favorable finishes near the rim as a relief option and cutter for Turner, along with open jumpers. 

DISLIKE: Inability to Contain Penetration

One of the limitations the Pacers faced with their emphasis on taking away a massive scoring outburst from Trae Young was the vulnerabilities the backend of their defense faced on his passes. He finished with 14 assists as a result. 

There were no shortage of situations when the Pacers' on-ball defender failed to effectively dodge a ball screen or simply stay in front of their man out in space. The personnel limitations Indiana has limits their aggressive defensive approach from fully clicking. 

This often put the help defense in a compromised position and gave up play finishing opportunities for the Hawks' big men like John Collins and Clint Capela. Both players accounted for 12 of Young's dimes, all of which were near the basket. 

LIKE: Bench Guards Thrived

If there was ever a game that displayed the potential for positive impact from TJ McConnell, it would be this one. The box score certainly tells the tale as he finished with 12 assists, four steals, and two blocks while recording just one turnover.

The Pacers outscored the Wizards by a staggering 32 points during the 32 minutes that McConnell was on the court. He was key in pressuring Trae Young full-court and was a critical playmaking catalyst to elevate the unit. He also led Indiana during their 41-point scoring outburst in the fourth quarter. 

This game cannot be discussed without mentioning the impressive play of Aaron Holiday off the bench. He scored 13 of his 18 points during the fourth quarter and was pivotal getting to the rim and executing some tough finishes. 

DISLIKE: Defense With Domantas Sabonis

During the 27 minutes that Domantas Sabonis was on the floor, the Pacers posted a terrible 126.2 defensive rating. That was by far the worst mark of any of Indiana's players who played at least five minutes of action. 

It's simply too easy for opposing teams to get to the rim when Myles Turner is not on the floor. Then when Turner is playing, Sabonis' limitations defending in space significantly lower the ceiling of the unit's potential on that end of the floor. 

With Sabonis also posting less-than-stellar efficiency as a roll man and post-up threat, is having him in a high usage offensive role wise? If so, then can he make enough of an impact when key players like TJ Warren and Caris LeVert return in a lesser role to make up for his defensive limitations? 

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