It is past time for the Indiana Pacers to just shut up and play ball. Tonight, its win or go home. Luckily for the Pacers they won’t have far to travel.
This team was built to defeat the Miami Heat. It was designed to exploit the weaknesses of the Heat by beating them with physicality and size. Two things we haven’t seen in the past three games.
We’ve seen the Pacers take the Heat apart at times. This is essentially the same team that dominated the league back in November and December. Just four games ago, we watched the Pacers lead from wire-to-wire and in Game Three at Miami appeared to be well on their way to another big win in the first half before coming unglued.
As George Hill has stated, the Pacers got too comfortable after the Game One win. They lost their edge and their confidence. Lance Stephenson even admitted that he said some things that shouldn’t have been said.
Paul George will pay a hefty fine (at least for a non-millionaire) for his comments regarding the officiating following the last game. Whether or not George has a point is not the issue, its the immaturity of a player who whines about calls. If he wants to get calls, then George needs to earn them by attacking the basket instead of settling for jumpers.
At this point, I feel sorry for David West who appears to be the bus driver for a bunch of toddlers. Or at least I would if he didn’t lead the complaints to the officials or yell “And-One” after every single shot attempt. West is supposed to be the leader, and if that’s the case he needs to shut up and let his game talk for him. That is an example the rest of the team could and should follow.
Roy Hibbert blamed the game plan for his lack of touches. Maybe if he had fought for better position and demanded the ball the final result would have been different. I can’t believe that the game plan called for Hibbert to not rebound the ball or play defense.
The Pacers are playing like a team that wants to get its coach fired right now. When the season started, these players bought in completely to Frank Vogel’s system. But over the past few months the trust on defense hasn’t been there and the players seem completely indifferent when they take the court.
The Pacers HAVE to stop complaining when calls don’t go their way. They also have to adjust their play style to what the officials are calling and not get wrapped up in what is and isn’t a foul. Situational awareness is also key. If you have two fouls, don’t bite on a fake or put a hand on an opposing player. You know, pretty simple stuff like that.
Miami is an exceptional team when it has the lead. The use that psychological edge to punish and bury opponents. Right now, the Pacers are no exception. If Indiana is able to get something resembling a lead, it has to push the advantage and finally step on an opponent’s throat to win a game early.
The Heat might not have Chris Anderson or, more importantly, Ray Allen this evening. Both have leg injuries and could be a game time scratch. While that does help the Pacers a bit, the Heat still have Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and of course LeBron James. While it shouldn’t matter who takes the court, the Pacers could use every advantage they can get.
Tonight, the most desperate team has the home court advantage. Maybe that will be enough for the Pacers to win one more game. Fans will respect this team if they go down swinging, if not, they’ll be calling for blood.