Throughout the first three games of their playoff series, Indiana has wiped the floor with Orlando at the start of every first and third quater. Based upon his post-game demeanor, this is something that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has grown increasingly frustrated with. His exasperation was most evident following the Pacers’ blow-out Game Three win in Orlando that was fueled by a third quarter that couldn’t have been more one-sided. He has said that his starters are “coming out of the locker room with nothing.”
Some have suspected this would lead to a shake up in the starting lineup. Van Gundy isn’t going that far. “Same starting five,” said Van Gundy before today’s Game Four tip-off, “but we’re going to do some things a little bit differently in terms of the way we rotate guys.”
He didn’t get into specifics of how he will tweak the rotation, other than when he told the Orlando Sentinel yesterday that it would be “subtle.” Although, based on his comments, it seems that the decision to stick with what has got him here is less about his confidence in the unit than it is that he has no good options.
“It’s easy to say the starters aren’t getting it done, so start other guys,” said Van Gundy.
That, however, won’t change the fact the the Pacers starting lineup has out-performed whoever they have faced. “It doesn’t matter who we’ve put on the floor,” said Van Gundy, “their starters have given us a lot of trouble.”
He did have one possible solution. But he doubts he will get the necessary cooperation from Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “Well, if I could get Frank [Vogel] to start other guys than that would probably be more of a benefit.”
He will, however, have no hesitation to start yanking guys if the team again comes out flat. He doesn’t want to see his team have to try to climb out of a deep hole for the fourth straight game. But it isn’t the score that will dictate his decision-making as much as what he sees energy-wise. “It’s not just a matter of the score,” said Van Gundy. “You can get behind 12 to 2 because you’re not making shots. What I’m really looking for at the beginning of the game is how we’re running up and down the floor in both directions, our movement, our energy levels. If we’ve got more of that, then [the starters] won’t be on a shorter leash.”
But if the energy is low? Expect to see guys like JJ Redick, Earl Clark and Quentin Richardson check in earlier than normal. “If I see it in the first three minutes that we’re just walking around again,” said Van Gundy, “then we’ve got to get into the bench quicker.”