May 20, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (3) defends against Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Three Keys for the Indiana Pacers in Game Three

The Indiana Pacers lost home court advantage on Tuesday in a disappointing finale to a great game. The Pacers had their chances, but ultimately couldn’t execute down the stretch.

The ending of game two was odd and didn’t favor the Pacers one bit. Between Paul George‘s concussion, David West‘s eye injury, and a couple bad calls going against George Hill, Indiana didn’t really stand a chance.

The Pacers out-played Miami over two games now and have led for the majority of the series so far. There is no reason to believe that the Pacers can’t steal a game in South Beach.

Here’s what you should watch for:

George’s Health 

While George may be medically cleared to play tonight, a concussion can be a tenuous injury. It would take just a slight blow to the head for him to relapse. George said he blacked out when he was hit and was fuzzy for the rest of the game.

George made a lot of uncharacteristic plays post blow to the head, especially on defense. He also needs to play significantly better, he can’t blame the concussion for his poor shooting and even worse shot selection earlier in the game. If he can’t play at an extremely high level, the Pacers won’t be winning this series.

We could also lump West in with this as well. His eye was scratched late in Tuesday’s game and was clearly hurting him. There hasn’t been any indication that West is suffering long term effects from the injury, but even a slight alteration to his vision would throw off his shot.

Aside from the eye, West needs to play better as well. He was extremely efficient in game one, but he shot just 31-percent in game two. West struggled inside the paint and couldn’t finish. He played like he wasn’t the toughest man on the court, which is uncharacteristic of him.

Born Ready

Lance Stephenson was magnificent in the third quarter of game two. He was un-guardable during that stretch. He always bring it against the Heat and is a tough player for them to matchup against.

The problem is that Stephenson disappeared in the fourth quarter. Norris Cole, of all people, was able to prevent him from driving into the lane and wrecking havoc. It didn’t help that the Pacers moved away from giving Stephenson the ball.

His pick and roll game with West is a thing of beauty, and something the Heat are ill equipped to defend. Using Stephenson as more of a point guard, while letting Hill take three’s will lead to another win for the Pacers.

Road Dominance

Unlike the regular season, the Pacers have been flat out dominant on the road in the postseason. They were 21-20 on the road in this season, and now boast a 5-1 road record. They’ve even won their last five road games, including one where they were down 3-2 in Atlanta and then closed out the series in Washington.

Miami is 6-1 against the Pacers at home over the past two seasons. Indiana just needs to win one to regain home court advantage. In both games in Miami this season, the Pacers played well enough to win. A failure to execute down the stretch in the first meeting led to a loss and a dismal third quarter (the only one they lost) gave them a loss in the second.

Bonus Point

Maybe the bench will finally show up for a game. After spending the off-season trying to upgrade the backup unit, the Pacers bench has been terrible in the playoffs. Through two games against Miami, the bench has just 22 points while shooting 30-percent.

Luis Scola has been particularly awful with just four points off 2-for-9 shooting. His mid-range jumper, which was deadly early in the season, seems to have completely disappeared.

If the bench were to actually show up and produce, the Pacers would lead the series 2-0. They will need someone in the reserve unit to show up if they want to steal game three.

Tags: David West George Hill Indiana Pacers Lance Stephenson Luis Scola Paul George

comments powered by Disqus