The Pacers are one win shy of their first playoff series victory since 2005. But even if the series ends on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, there’s plenty to learn from Saturday’s overtime win, and plenty to gain from going over it with a fine-toothed comb. Here are the five things I’d look at adjusting for Tuesday:
1. Do Something About Paul George. I say “do something” because really you have two options for Paul George. You can game plan him out of potential disasters, where he finds himself defending the opposing team’s best three point shooter in
game-tying, high pressure situations, or you can just bench him. It’s too late to impress upon the youngster the importance of not going for every grade school-caliber pump fake his opponent throws his way. His stance and footwork could be more consistent, but those too are probably lost causes this late. I am a huge proponent of force feeding George minutes until he “gets it,” but unfortunately the 66-game season didn’t allow for much on-the-job training. Vogel may have to pull the plug on George early if he replicates Saturday’s atrocious play on both ends of the court.
2. Big Baby Again, Seriously? While allowing Glen Davis to go off seems to have its perks (i.e., the Magic have now lost three straight, and he’s been very good offensively in all of those games), what does his continued success say about this team’s long-term prospects? Should Indiana finish off the Magic, Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh are up next. They aren’t the scariest post tandem in the league, but the Pacers will be focusing double and triple teaming LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. If Glen Davis can score 20+ ppg with ease on the Pacers’ single coverage, well, I’m guessing Bosh will have no problem doing the same, and Anthony could even get his.
3. Pedal to the Floor, Pacers! Both the starters and the reserves lost leads on Saturday. You can’t blame one particular unit because both shared in two big collapses; a first half 9-point lead shrunk to 2 by halftime, then a 4th quarter 19 point lead was completely eradicated, sending the game into overtime. No matter what Frank Vogel tried, the Pacers couldn’t get anything going late, until thankfully the end of overtime. There were too many quick shots and not much effort for loose balls and offensive rebounds at that crucial stage of the game. The referees didn’t help, but the Pacers need to play through bad officiating.
4. D-FENSE! Offensive laziness wasn’t the only culprit Saturday. The Pacers lost focus on defense, time and again allowing none other than Jameer Nelson to break them down off the dribble and find a “cutting” Glen Davis (really…how do you lose this guy on a back door cut…for shame).
5. More Darren Collison? I never thought I’d be saying this after watching George Hill’s high efficiency month of April, but maybe Darren Collison needs more minutes when Hill struggles. Granted, Hill was one of the big reasons the Pacers were able to put things away, but Collison was great while he was in. He squeezed a great, efficient line into just 18 minutes (11 points, 9 assists, 3-6 FG, 2-3 3PT, 3-3 FT, 0 TO, 2 steals) and there was a 26 point +/- swing between he and Hill. Unfortunately with Collison you can never tell who’s going to show up. The confident leader we saw yesterday, or the too-small, too-skinny backup we’ve come to get used to.