ATLANTA (AP) — At this stage of an NBA playoff series, there’s not much need for extra film work, no point in making any big adjustments.
When two teams are tied heading into their fifth meeting in less than two weeks, familiarity is not an issue.
“We know what they’re trying to do and they know what we’re trying to do,” said Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, looking ahead to Tuesday night’s crucial Game 5 against Boston. “There’s nothing the other team has not seen before.”
While Cleveland and San Antonio breezed through the opening round with four-game sweeps, the Hawks-Celtics series is right back where it started, essentially a best-of-three heading into a potentially pivotal contest at Philips Arena.
It’s the same scenario for the night’s other game, which has the Toronto Raptors looking to regain the upper hand when they host the pesky Indiana Pacers.
After getting blown out in Game 2 in Atlanta, the Celtics bounced back with two nail-biting victories in Beantown, including an overtime triumph Sunday night that evened things up.
The Hawks were kicking themselves for squandering Paul Millsap’s 45-point effort and a 16-point lead in the second half, pointing to a shaky transition defense that allowed Boston to rip off a quick run near the end of the third quarter.
Now, it’s all about the little things.
“It’s going to come down to the 50-50 balls, come down to the hustle plays, come down to that one or two runs that really separates you from the other team,” Korver said.
Here’s a look at the games Tuesday:
Pacers at Raptors, series tied 2-2 (6 p.m. EDT, TNT).
The second-seeded Raptors really need their dynamic backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to get going.
DeRozan is hitting just 29.6 percent (21 of 71) in the series, while Lowry isn’t much better at 32 percent on 19-of-59 shooting. They combined to make just 8 of 27 in Game 4 as Indiana evened the series with a 100-83 romp.
“They’re like your kids,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “You get upset with your kids sometimes, you argue with your kids, you go back and forth. But at the end of the day, they’re our guys. We’re going to ride and die with DeMar and Kyle.”
Indiana already knocked off the Raptors in Game 1 in Toronto, and Pacers star Paul George hopes the Pacers can steal one more road victory to set up a potential series-clinching win in Indianapolis.
“We have to realize that if we lock this one up, we can close it out here without worrying about Game 7,” he said. “That’s the motivation.”
Indiana center Ian Mahinmi is coming off the best game of his career in Game 4 — 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists — despite a lingering lower-back injury that forced him to sit out practice Monday.
Thought listed as questionable, he is expected to play in Game 5.
Celtics at Hawks, series tied 2-2 (8:30 p.m. EDT, TNT).
Boston must avoid the poor starts that plagued the team in each of its first two games in Atlanta, including a Game 2 debacle that left the Celtics trailing by 21 points midway through the first quarter.
“I wouldn’t recommend 24-3 again. Just generally speaking, that would be a bad thing,” coach Brad Stevens said sarcastically. “I didn’t think we lacked for effort in Game 2. We just didn’t play well in the first 5 minutes. Then you’re swimming uphill the rest of the game, and that’s bad. They played at a different pace than we did in Game 2 at the start. That can’t happen again.”
While the Celtics are focused on improving in the opening minutes, the Hawks must do a better job at finishing. They had a chance to win both games in Boston but couldn’t pull out either one. More troubling, they are 0-6 in overtime games this season and have dropped nine straight going back to last season.
“We need to be better in those situations,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
With Avery Bradley still sidelined by a hamstring injury, the Celtics will again go with a bigger lineup that worked well in Boston. Jonas Jerebko, a 6-foot-10 Swede used sparingly during the regular season, is coming off a 16-point, 10-rebound performance in Game 4.
Stevens isn’t concerned about Jerebko’s defensive struggles when matched against Millsap.
“Millsap was scoring on everybody,” Stevens said. “Not just Jonas.”
AP Sports Writers Michael Marot in Indianapolis and Kyle Hightower in Boston, and AP freelancer writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this report.
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