I like this series, it’s like the popular kids vs the nerds (or any other stereotype comparing two completely different groups of people. Watch High school musical if you’re wondering what I mean.) Already 2 games have gone by and that just shows how equally matched this series actually is. Of course the roles in this series are defined. The Heat is the superstar studded team who is the favorite to win. The Pacers; the underdogs that nobody knows how far they can go.
In the Game 1 loss for Indiana, they failed to do anything to stop Dwyane Wade and Lebron James who recorded 29 and 32 points each. The Pacers almost have their work cut out for them on defense. Besides Lebron, Wade and previously Bosh, nobody else seems to want to put the ball in the hoop or play… basketball for that matter. They really need to focus on limiting Wade and Lebron. They also have to continue to get it to Hibbert down low, even increase his touches if they can. He is 7’2 and the biggest man on the floor for Miami is only 6’11. He has a huge mismatch down in the post, and if they can utilize him on isolations by the block then they’ll be at their strongest. They also have to get more guys involved and get them hot early. For example, Granger who finished with 7 points on 1-10 shooting, or Paul George who finished with 6 points on 1-5 shooting. Paul George has to get more shots, and the Pacers have to find a way to free up Granger from the defensive chokehold of Lebron James. Their biggest strength is their depth and their depth could actually win them the series, so they need everybody in their rotation putting up at least 10 points.
In Game 2, the Pacers proved many critics wrong. They won a game on the road and a close one at that. This proved that they’re mature enough and experienced enough to win a game on the road in the playoffs. However, it also exposed their lack of a closer. They missed 3 of 4 free throws in the last 1:20 of the game, if they had sunk their free throws then America wouldn’t have had to watch the rest of the game while holding their breath and sitting on the edge of their seat. If they had got Hibbert involved, this game would have been over before it started. He only got 6 shots in this game. Chris Bosh wasn’t even playing, so imagine if they had gotten it to Hibbert early and he had gotten the Heat big men into foul trouble. This game would’ve been in the bag. They have to utilize their advantage down low, if they don’t then this series will be a very difficult one to win. I think overall the ball isn’t being shared enough among the Pacers players. Their offense has been mostly focused around perimeter scorers, which is the wrong way to play the Heat. They have Lebron, Wade, and Battier who are all premier defenders on the perimeter. They have to share the ball more. In this game, Granger, George, West, and Barbosa took a combined 48 shots. The rest of the team took 26 shots. This team is very deep, but if they don’t use their depth, they can forget about advancing. The Heat’s flaws are the same as ever. No depth, no big men. They’re lucky Wade and Lebron can carry them to a certain point because otherwise they would be finished. In game 2, Lebron and Wade combined for 52 of the Heat’s 75 points. In a game without Bosh, they needed a third scorer and they couldn’t find one. Anywhere. They need someone to step up, especially against such a deep team like Indiana. Finally, I don’t want to be a Lebron hater but the MVP showed glimpses of another choke filled playoffs in game 2. He missed both free throws in the final minute that could’ve got the Heat within 1.
For the future, the Pacers need to really share the ball and get everybody involved. They need to remember they hold arguably the most valuable advantage down low and they have to use it. Also, keep up the defense. They’re holding the Heat to 37% shooting from the field and can’t afford to loosen up when they get home. They have to be confident in themselves when they get to Indiana, they beat the Heat at home and hopefully that will encourage guys to step up and score more. They also have the crowd behind them and that will be huge for their possible success. In general, they have to remember that there is no pressure on them right now. They are the underdogs and they have already exceeded expectations. The pressure is on the Heat, not only because they’re the Heat but because they gave one up at home and because Bosh is out for the rest of the playoffs. They have to relax and continue to force the Heat to feel the heat, for lack of a better pun. For the Heat, they desperately need someone to step up. Lebron and Wade won’t win them the NBA championship by themselves. They need someone to score off the bench for them. Now more then ever, considering Bosh is out for the series, their lack of depth will be exposed. Who will be the hero to help out Miami?
I’ll give this series to the Pacers in 7 games. The Heat just won’t be able to match the depth without Bosh in the lineup, but the Heat being the Heat will still be able to squeeze out 3 wins from Lebron and Wade on their own.