Thanks to a private plane provided by Hawks ownership, Johan Petro arrived at Philips Arena just 90 minutes before tipoff for Game 4 on Monday.
Petro left the team Sunday to be with his expectant wife Vanessa in Miami for the birth of the couple’s first child. His wife was scheduled to have labor induced Sunday and delivered Monday afternoon. Only hours after the 2 p.m. delivery of son Jacob, Petro was in the starting lineup against the Pacers.
“I want to personally thank our owners who sent a private plan down there to pick him so he could be back here in time,” coach Larry Drew said.
Petro’s arrival allowed the Hawks to start the big lineup that was successful in the Game 3 victory in first-round series. It was in doubt at the morning shootaround, when the team was still awaiting word on the birth.
Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Josh Smith and Al Horford also started, the same unit from Sunday’s 90-69 victory.
“We seem to play out of the (big) lineup very well,” Drew said.
Vogel’s bold statement: Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Sunday that he believes he is coaching the better team in the series.
“I’m encouraged. We’re the better team,’’ Vogel told the Indianapolis Star. “When we play the way we’re supposed to play, we’ll win.’’
Drew said the better team will be decided on the court.
“I think every coach is going to feel they have the better team,” Drew said. “I’m not going to say whether I agree with it or disagree with it. I think when you talk about the playoffs, if you play the way you are capable of playing, anything can happen, whether you are perceived as the better team or not.
Smith dominates in post: Much credit was given to Smith about his defensive effort on Paul George in the Game 3 victory. However, Smith also punished George every time he got the ball in the post.
“We looked at some things that were successful,” Smith said. “Me being able to catch the ball down low was beneficial to the team. I would think that we would explore that option a little bit but also mix some more things up and not show them the same look every time.”
Drew said he expects the Pacers to make an adjustment, perhaps sending another defender over to help George. Drew and Smith both said they will be ready for the help defense.
“I never know what to expect,” Smith said. “I do, before the game, put myself through different scenarios of what may happen so I won’t be blindsided. You never know until it actually happens.”