Five things the Hawks must do to get back in series

The Hawks face a must-win situation Saturday in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Pacers at Philips Arena. Down 2-0 after losses in Indiana, they can’t afford to lose on their home court in the best-of-seven series.

Here are five things the Hawks must do get back in the series.

Find effective matchups: The Pacers gave the Hawks fits in games 1 and 2 from a matchup standpoint. When the Hawks tried to defend against the size of David West and Roy Hibbert, they were hurt from the outside. When the Hawks tried different strategies on Paul George they couldn't slow the All-Star, who has averaged 25.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the series.

The Hawks were not a big team to start the season, but the loss of 6-foot-11 center/forward Zaza Pachulia has complicated the defensive matchups and rotations. Also, the Hawks have committed 50 fouls, forcing players to the bench.

“Playing against this team, they pose matchup problems because they are so big,” coach Larry Drew said. “That may be something that we look at. Offensively, I’m very pleased. We are shooting almost 50 percent. The offense has not been the issue. Going back and looking at both games, defensively we just made some miscues. We talk about what our game strategy is, and we’ve had breakdowns in areas we should be a lot more consistent with. …

“The first couple of games we played, we played a lot of small to utilize our speed and our quickness. Maybe now we may change a little bit.”

Play better defense: The Hawks spent the past two days studying film of their defensive breakdowns in the series. The Pacers have scored 107 and 113 points in the two games, far too many for even the up-tempo Hawks to allow. It's especially troublesome because the Pacers would rather play a half-court offense. The Hawks have failed in their defensive rotations.

“We have to definitely hold each other accountable in situations like this,” Josh Smith said. “You have to have thick skin in watching film. It was very beneficial for everybody to be able to see what was going on and the glaring mistakes that we made.”

The Hawks have also committed 30 turnovers, allowing the Pacers to get on the break for easy baskets.

As the Hawks’ defense allowed the Pacers to double-digit leads for much of the two games, the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse became a factor.

Take — and make — more free throws: The free-throw discrepancy in the series has been well-documented. The Pacers have made 51 of 63 (.810) free throws. The Hawks have made only 18 of 34 (.529). Presumably, the Hawks may get a few more calls to go their way at home. However, they will need to be more aggressive in going to the basket or getting the ball to Al Horford and Smith down low when they have a mismatch.

Once the Hawks get to the free-throw line they must convert. Shooting 53 percent will not do in the playoffs. Drew preached all season that missed free throws could cost the Hawks a game. They don’t want to be in a close playoff game and fail to convert.

As a team the Hawks had a .715 free-throw percentage during the regular season. In the playoffs Devin Harris, Horford and Smith are all shooting less than 50 percent.

Quit whining: The Hawks allowed the free-throw discrepancy to become a mental issue during the two games in Indiana. They were hit with three technical fouls in Game 2 alone. Coach and players acknowledged it has become a problem. It may be easier said than done in the emotion of the playoffs, but the Hawks must keep their heads. Their reaction and complaints are surely not going to help. There have been questionable calls, but the Hawks must play through them.

“Frustration is starting to be an enemy of ours,” Drew said. “This is the playoffs. We can’t allow our frustrations to take us out of what we want to do.”

Stop George Hill: Yes, Paul George has been the Pacers' best player in the series to date. However, Hill is doing a great deal of damage. The point guard is averaging 20 points in two games by making 14 of 22 (.636) shots. The Pacers have several offensive weapons, but the Hawks are going to have to do a better job on Hill.

“He’s only taking like 10 shots every game,” Jeff Teague said. “He’s just making them. They are the shots that we want him to take. He’s just knocking them down. We are so focused containing Paul George and David West and those guys and when they kick it out to him, he’s making shots. He’s a great player. We all know he can play. He’s killing us.”

Hill has seven on the Pacers’ 17 3-pointers in the series.