Inside the game: Pacers adjust to slow Teague

Following each Hawks playoff game, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will examine a strategic element that affected the outcome of the contest.

The strategy: The Pacers used 6-foot-9 Paul George, an All-Star, to defend 6-2 point guard Jeff Teague in a 101-85 Game 2 victory.

The impact: Teague scored a game-high 28 points in Game 1. He carved up each defender the Pacers put on him. The Pacers hinted they would put George, their best defender, on Teague before Game 2. They did just that from the start.

Teague had 12 first-half points as the Hawks led by four points at intermission. Though he did get by George on several occasions, Teague finished with only one more basket — a layup 1:27 into the third quarter. He played just 3:05 of the fourth quarter as the Pacers were up big.

It was a fiery matchup, each exchanging stares after made baskets. The back-and-forth seemed to lift George. After he made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter, George shouted at the Hawks’ bench and was mobbed by teammates. The Pacers won the game by outscoring the Hawks 31-13 in the period.

One of the impacts of having George guard Teague was that it changed several other defensive matchups. The Pacers put David West on Pero Antic and George Hill on Kyle Korver. Hill used his speed to stay with Korver, whom the Pacers made a priority of limiting his attempts. Korver was 1-of-5 from the field, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and finished with five points. Antic was 2-of-9 from the field, 1-of-5 from 3-point range, and also finished with five points.

What they said: "I was dialed in. I wanted to edit how we guarded him in Game 1. It was homework for me. Just locking in to what he does. What's his tendencies? Where can I get beat? Where am I vulnerable against him? It's a challenge. I always want a challenge." — George

“It didn’t change anything. We just missed shots in the third quarter. We got the looks we wanted. I got in the paint. There were just some shots we missed.” — Teague

“Paul George is a very good defender, and no matter who he guards, he can have an impact on the game. We got off to a good start. At halftime, we were in a good place. I think there were a lot of other things that were more of a factor than matchups or who guards who. I don’t think there were any other subsequent matchups that weren’t taken advantage of or weren’t anticipated.

“I think collectively, the execution for both teams (was the issue). They played well in the third quarter, and we need to play better. There are a lot of little things that go into that.” — Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer

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