Indiana's demoralizing Game 1 loss to Atlanta has earned the team a tongue-lashing from outspoken TNT commentator Charles Barkley.
A 101-93 home loss to a 38-win Hawks team was not what the Pacers had in mind when they set their sights on the East's No. 1 seed all season. Their performance was listless, out-of-sync and ragged, as Jeff Teague torched Indiana for 28 points while Paul George shot just 6-for-18 from the field.
Even after just one game, Barkley has seen enough.
"I've got to vent, America. I know it's early, but I've got to call out somebody," Barkley said. "The Indiana Pacers. You guys talk all that noise all year, 'We want homecourt,' and then you come out [Saturday] night and play like dogs. You've got Larry Bird in your front office, you've got a terrific coach in Frank Vogel.
"I'm an Indiana fan, for everything y'all stand for, but to come out and play like flat wussies, and I'm only calling you guys 'wussies' because I don't want to get the FCC [mad] at me. ... Come on, man, you're better than that. You're embarrassing coach Vogel and the great Larry Bird."
Indiana entered the playoffs with the East's best record at 56-26, which was good enough to secure its second consecutive Central Division title. Despite some second-half struggles, the Pacers were a league-best 35-6 at home this year.
All-Star center Roy Hibbert finished with eight points (on 4-for-9 shooting), eight rebounds, four turnovers and no blocks against Atlanta. The big-bodied center is facing a tough mismatch with the perimeter-oriented Pero Antic.
"We just have to get certain guys under control as a team," Hibbert said, according to the Indianapolis Star. "I'm sure we'll look over film ... if I'm the main culprit in terms of being the weak link on defense because they have a spread-five lineup. I guess we'll have to adjust."
Vogel drastically cut Hibbert's minutes during an April 6 loss to the Hawks because of the mismatch.
Pacers.com reported Sunday that Vogel was staying mum about the possibility of lineup changes for Game 2, which is set for Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday. The Pacers have not lost consecutive home games all season.
Hat tip: Eye On Basketball