The Indiana Pacers are facing a 2-1 series deficit against the defending champion Miami Heat heading into tonight’s Game 4 match-up. Indiana was unable to come out in Game 3 and make a statement on the road, but they have no other choice tonight if they want to keep their NBA Finals hopes alive. Miami knows that a win in tonight’s game would likely signal the end of the series, and they are going to come out with a ton of energy.
There are three things that the Pacers must do against the Heat tonight in order to go back to Indianapolis for Game 5 with the series tied at 2-2. It’s certainly not going to be easy, but they have to figure out a way to grind out an ugly, slow-paced game. So what are the three things that the Pacers absolutely must do in Game 4?
1. Limit Turnovers and Get Back on Defense
While the Pacers ended up losing to the Heat in Game 3, they started the game off with a 17-4 lead. They looked to be the much better team and Miami had no response. Unfortunately, the Pacers then took their feet off the gas pedal and began turning the ball over and allowing the Heat to get easy buckets in transition. The Heat are very dangerous when they are allowed into the open court, and they have the ability to knock down big threes as well as finish at the rim.
2. Keep Playing True to Their Identity
The Pacers are a basketball team that has been built to play through the post. Both David West and Roy Hibbert are going to have to see more touches in Game 4 for the Pacers to come away with a win. Indiana’s back-court got caught dribbling around and trying to force plays in Game 3, and that is how turnovers and lack of quality offense happen. Frank Vogel needs to make sure to play through his big men and allow the offense to play inside-out.
3. Improved Bench Play and Rotations
One of Vogel’s biggest issues all season long has been his poor rotations with his bench. He had the same issue last year by throwing all five of his bench players out on the floor at the same time, and it simply won’t work against a team like Miami. The Pacers need to sprinkle their bench players in with the starters, and stop throwing Lance Stephenson out on the floor by himself with four bench pieces. Also, Vogel needs to choose to play either Rasual Butler or Evan Turner, and stop giving one player just three minutes in the entire game in the second half after sitting all game.
Overall, this could very well be the end of the series for the Pacers if they come up short again. If they are facing a 3-1 series deficit heading back to Indiana for Game 5, it’s going to look very unlikely that they’ll win three straight games against the Heat.
Game 4 tip is at 8:30 PM tonight.