The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat get to face off tonight in the Eastern Conference Finals. Everyone is picking the Heat to just walk in and walk out of this series. But as a Pacers loyalist, I do believe strongly in the blue and gold. They’re not going to be intimidated by this moment as they faced the Heat last season, and even built a lead in the series. This Pacers team has got stronger since that point, and have had success against the Heat this regular season. If the Pacers can control the game in their tempo, they have a great shot at stealing this first game of the series, which could go a long way towards upsetting the vaulted Heat team. But what do they have to do to steal this game?
1. Limit Turnovers
This Pacers team does have a bad habit of making bad passes. If they start tossing the ball around, the Heat will make the Pacers play in their game of transition. That’s a key as well, stopping transition, but for this turnover battle, the Pacers have to make the smart passes, and get guys the ball in the best place for them to score. Watch how they’re attacking the basket with the ball as Lebron James is an excellent defender, and can strip away at any time. They have to just slow down the game, and get their passes around to each other in the right manner.
2. Stop Transition
If they’re turning the ball over, the Heat will get out and run. If you had Lebron James barreling down the court, why wouldn’t you run? This is a team that does have some quickness on them, and guys who get to the basket, so the Pacers can’t afford to be letting the Heat run all up and down the court. It’s a recipe for disaster, and the Pacers have that recipe when working that could beat the Heat.
3. Killer Instinct
I think the Pacers have to go in very confident even if they’re not favored. They can’t come in all lax, and wait for the game to come to them. Lance Stephenson could be a HUGE x-factor as we’ll want to see how he performs after that break out game six performance against the New York Knicks. Roy Hibbert is another guy to watch as he should be huge in the middle, and could get plenty of looks as the Heat don’t have the big men to contend with him. That’s where the Pacers need to look early to get Hibbert going, and we’ll see that his confidence will be building. This team can’t let the moment get to them, and come out TOO aggressive to make silly mistakes. But play like they did in game one against the New York Knicks, where they looked like the better team.
These are just three small keys to victory. But they’re important factors in the game plan of the Pacers. Seeing how this Pacers team handles this moment of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals is big. We’ll have to see if they’re too aggressive, and make silly mistakes that get them down early. Or if they can keep the game right at their pace, and keep it close to hopefully pull off the victory in game one.