The Indiana Pacers are headed into a very dangerous Game 6 match-up against the Washington Wizards. Indiana currently has a 3-2 series advantage, but the Wizards were able to find themselves in Game 5 and defeat the Pacers by a final score of 102-79. There are three keys that are going to be vital to the Pacers’ chance tonight, and if they don’t take care of each key, they will find themselves heading back to Indianapolis with the series tied at 3-3.
1. Rebound the Basketball
This is the most obvious key to Game 6, as the Wizards were able to dominate the Pacers on the boards to the tune of a 62-23 rebound advantage in Game 5. The Pacers have to come out with a renewed focus on securing both offensive and defensive rebounds, and limiting the Wizards to just one shot. Roy Hibbert, David West, Paul George, and Lance Stephenson need to out-hustle anyone on the floor to close out possessions strong.
2. Fluster John Wall
The Pacers did an excellent job of keeping John Wall out of the series throughout the first four games, but he got himself going on Tuesday night. If the Pacers want to finish out the Wizards in Game 6, they are going to have to contain Wall, and force him to become the turnover prone point guard that he was in the first four games. It’s going to be much harder to do this time around, but the Pacers are a good enough defensive team that they certainly can.
3. Control the Tempo
Washington prefers to play with a faster tempo, and they destroyed the Pacers in fast break opportunities. The Pacers need to force the game to a slower pace that favors their half-court system, and limit silly turnovers and long rebounds. When the Wizards do get the ball into the open floor, the Pacers need to sprint back on defense instead of just jogging like they did in Game 5.
Overall, the Pacers are by far the more talented team on the court. The Wizards have been playing with more passion in their two wins, and Indiana needs to find a way to match that intensity and energy. That being said, this is going to be a very close game that comes down to the final few minutes of the game, and it will all depend on who makes more mistakes.