We’re finally at the real part of the season. This is where things get heightened, and teams can make or break their seasons. The Indiana Pacers did end the regular season on a slide, and now that can be all put away with this game one victory. I feel like this first game could set the tone for the rest of the series. If the Pacers come out flat, and don’t perform, you know how many fans are going to turn on this team. They’re already sour on the team anyways, and a dud today would hurt this team big time. It would hurt the confidence and mental ability of the team. Most of the games on this team are so dependent on that, I can’t imagine what game two would be like. Therefore, the Pacers HAVE to come out and perform strong today.
I would look for Paul George and Roy Hibbert to really have big games. Those are the two guys that I am wondering how they will perform this post season. Two guys that could carry the team at times, and two guys that hadn’t performed as well last year in the playoffs. Hibbert had a good first round, but then disappeared against the Heat. Paul George just wasn’t that strong throughout the playoffs, and with his regular season, people are expecting big things this post season. George needs to get around 20 points today to really show that he’s ready for this next step. More like a leap. It should be like Reggie Miller where his game got even more elevated in the post season. Paul George getting around 20 points and 7 rebounds in this series would be my expectation.
Roy Hibbert has to get a double double each time out. With the size advantage he has, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t do that. Even 12-15 points and 10 rebounds would be ideal in my mind. He’s going to be a huge presence on defense, so he has to stay out of foul trouble. The Pacers as a team have to show that defensive side they did so many times throughout the season. Keeping this game under 90 should be a win for the team. Their offensive side has been better, but defense is the bread and butter of the team. If they can get a stop, and then go out and run to the basket, that’s how to win. We’ve seen the lack of jump shooting, so I wouldn’t rely on that this game. They have to get those easy baskets and work in transition at times.
The Pacers have a great opportunity to show that they’re ready for the post season with a great performance today. A win by double digits in front of the home crowd is my expectation for this one. Putting away the Hawks in five games is the expectation for the series. Time to put those expectations into overdrive and win this game one.