When this group of Indiana Pacers was constructed, it was clear that many of its defining qualities would come from the defensive side of the ball. And, because of his ability as a rim protector, center Roy Hibbert played a large part in defining the team's identity.

But the NBA Playoffs can become more about matchups than favorites, and the Pacers have slowly learned that over the course of six games in their first-round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks.

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Never was that lesson more apparent than when Pacers coach Frank Vogel pulled Hibbert with his team trailing 15-5 after the game's first seven minutes. Once Hibbert sat, Vogel had a tough decision to make. His willingness to go away from the Pacers' familiar trappings and take on the here and now was the single biggest factor in Indiana's 95-88 Game 6 win.

"It's not something that philosophically I'm really against as a coach," Vogel said of using small lineups. "It's just the way our team is built and we've had success with it."

Vogel admitted that it is tough to switch lineups on the fly. The process of moving players to the bench isn't as taxing as the adjustments that follow, he said. Tough as it might have been, it paid off.

"Coach made the right call," Pacers forward David West said. "At this point in the season, it's about the group. Obviously, it's tough for some guys who didn't play tonight who'd been playing.

"Again, keep them encouraged and we're going to stay encouraged as a group and hopefully put up our best game of the series in Game 7."

West definitely did his part in Game 6, and his offense benefited from the move away from Hibbert to the more nimble Ian Mahinmi. In the closing moments, when West scored the most important of his 24 points, Mahimni was flexed far into the corner, giving way to an open lane in which to operate.

West held the ball and waited as the clock ran down, then challenged Hawks forward Paul Millsap with a hard drive and pulled up for a floater. It was the biggest play of the game, and West finished it in a lane clear of congestion.

But West wasn't the only beneficiary. The Pacers' team defense was much better about getting out to 3-point shooters, which neutralized Hawks center Pero Antic, who stretched the defense with Hibbert in the lineup.

Indiana used Mahinmi, Chris Copeland and Rasual Butler to chase down shooters. Aside from Mahinmi, Indiana relied on players who hadn't made much of an impact this season, but each delivered necessary punch when called upon.

"They've got the advantage in terms of foot speed," West said. "We have to be honest about that. We had to have guys out on the floor that have the foot speed to get up and down the floor."

Vogel was sure to protect Hibbert from scrutiny, but he did admit that Mahinmi was the better match for Atlanta's outside shooting.

"It's just one of those things that Ian's more of a mobile center and Roy's better at the rim," Vogel said. "You need some mobility when you're guarding 3-point shooters. I'm just thankful that I've got two great defensive centers that I can go to."

The Pacers aren't too worried about Hibbert's psyche going forward

into Game 7. Even though he is an integral part of the team, this has always been about the group. West reiterated that on Thursday.

"We gotta be professionals," West said. "I told the guys before the game, 'Worst come to worst, we just have to play park basketball.' Everybody's gotta guard somebody, keep your man in front of you, make them score on you, go right back at them. Again, we've got enough IQ on this team to get through those moments."

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