The Pacers will attempt to steal one from a Chris Bosh-less Miami Heat team tonight in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final matchup. Here’s how they’ll have to do it:
1. Continue Dominant Perimeter Defense. The Pacers allowed zero three point field goals from the Heat in game 1. While Miami isn’t a great three point shooting team (or a good jump shooting team in general, for that matter) it was impressive that Indiana kept them completely ineffective from beyond the arc. The Pacers are hit or miss defending shooters. While they do well as a unit, individually there are some weak spots. They can’t be exposed tonight like they have been at times during the season.
2. Make the Stars Kill You ALONE. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had to have monumental fourth quarters simultaneously to beat the Pacers. That’s fine, but wide open interior passes to Joel Anthony and numerous offensive rebounds are inexcusable tonight. There’s very little chance the “Big Two” can do it all by themselves vs. the Pacers at their best.
3. Abuse Their Size Disadvantage. Hibbert looked great for most of his offensive possessions on Sunday. Now he won’t be tracked out to 15-foot range on defense, and can concentrate on dominating the paint at both ends. When Hibbert is confident and in a good rhythm, no one in Miami’s hodge-podge post rotation of Anthony, Ronny Turiaf and Udonis Haslem wants any part of him.
4. Granger and George. Remember, the Pacers were very close to pulling out a shocker with George and Granger basically not showing up at all. 25-30 combined points from these guys on efficient shooting with solid defense (and more aggressive drives to the hoop) will go a long way to shocking the Heat tonight.
5. Officiating. We can’t ignore the Pacers’ biggest game 1 problem…the refs. The Pacers can’t let the zebras take them out of this one. They must shake off early discouragement and play through foul trouble, no matter how frustrating. The have to maintain any rhythm they can.