During the final possessions of the Hawks win over the Pacers, communication on the defense proved to be the game’s deciding factor. Let’s take a look at what went wrong for the Pacers and right for the Hawks.
Down by one with 19 seconds remaining, the Pacers were forced to foul in order to get the ball back. Indiana knew that Atlanta would try to get the ball into the hands of Kyle Korver (career 88 percent free throw shooter), so instead of guarding the inbounder, they double-teamed Korver to stop him from getting the ball.
As the inbounder gets the ball, Lou Williams cuts toward the basket, which appears to be simple decoy to free up Korver for the next action. But as Williams moves through scrum in the middle of the floor, Paul George leaves his assignment on Williams to deny the pass to the already double-teamed Korver.
While George’s triple-team on Korver effectively stopped him from getting the ball, none of the other Pacers had any idea about his plans to leave Williams. George may have thought a switch was in order, but by the looks of things, his teammates were sticking with Korver all the way. As a result of the miscommunication, Williams gets a wide open dunk. The full play is below.
On Indiana’s next possession, we can see what an effective switching defense looks like. The key switch on the play comes from Josh Smith. After a few screens to start the play, George Hill comes up from the baseline, using screens from Roy Hibbert and Paul George in an attempt to get an open three. Before Hill can get to the three point line, Josh Smith has already jumped out to deny the pass. With Hill covered, the Pacers settle for a contested three. The full play is below.
Paul George’s unexpected freelancing on defense caught his teammates off guard and cost the Pacers a crucial possession. On the other end of the floor, the Atlanta’s effective defensive communication shut down the Pacers’ attempts to tie the game.