If the Pacers can bottle up whatever Lance Stephenson did last night, and carry that through this Eastern Conference Finals, they have a great shot at taking out the Heat. I don’t know if the Heat are really prepared for all those good things that Stephenson was doing last night, and that could be a great thing for the Pacers. He was all over the place last night on his way to 25 points and 10 rebounds in last night’s win. He put his head down and looked to score as his shot was missing, big time missing. That’s still the area of Stephenson’s game that hasn’t come around. He can pass. He can drive. He can play defense, so if he can start hitting some jumpers, he’ll be even bigger for this team. That tenacity that he shows is big enough. When he gets a rebound, and starts running the court, you just know he’s going coast to coast, there’s not a lot of doubt there. He’s just go to be smart about that, especially against the Heat in the Conference Finals. But just like the Knicks series, I believe Lance Stephenson will be the X-Factor for this next round.
He doesn’t need to get 25 points and 10 boards against the Heat, but he’s got to be in attack mode when the opportunity presents itself. I think he’s got to be around the boards as well since the Heat aren’t a good rebounding team. All of the Pacers would be well served to be attacking the glass for a rebounding. They’ve had a big advantage in that category when playing the Heat this regular season, and that could be the deciding factor in the next round.
It’s amazing to see the transformation Lance Stephenson has made just in the past couple of seasons. We did see him get into some trash talk last year in the playoffs against the Heat, and I know we won’t see that again. Lance has come a long way since looking like he didn’t belong on this team. Now he’s playing at the level that Larry Bird believed he would be at when he signed him to a long contract. I know I was so against that because I didn’t see anything good from Stephenson. But then last season, there were those brief moments, where I started to realize, this guy does have something. He was making passes that probably had no business being passes. This season, he gets bumped into the starting lineup and looked like a starter. He brings all that ball of energy to the starting unit, and really feeds off doing well. Last night, you could just see the confidence building up in Stephenson, and just imagine if that can continue. He got the nickname “Born Ready”, but I believe a better nickname is just ready. He’s ready for the Heat. He’s ready for a break out moment. He’s ready to be Ready.