The Indiana Pacers came out firing last night, and weathered some of the Heat in last night’s game four. It took a few punches from Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, but the Pacers countered back with Roy Hibbert, who is having a fantastic series, and why not. He’s a huge presence in the middle that the Heat have no answers for. He can tip in rebounds, pound the ball inside, dish out to an open shooter, he’s really coming into his own in this series. How about the play of Lance Stephenson as well? With his game, it’s not always showing up in the stats, but when he puts his head down and gets out in the open court, good things can happen. Of course, the flip side can happen too, but we like to concentrate on Good Lance, and not Bad Lance. Last night, I believe we saw more of Good Lance. Even asking to guard Lebron James to help relieve some of that defensive pressure off of Paul George. George has had a rough series in some parts because of all the effort he’s putting into guarding James, and with good reason. But Stephenson did in fact step up to his own request, and show solid defensive effort himself, which might be something the Pacers look to the rest of the way.
Now we have a tied series, and with momentum bouncing back and forth, it’s hard to truly predict what will happen in game five. It’s back in Miami, so the Pacers will have to be on guard about the Heat coming out of the gates quickly. The Pacers did that last night, and I kept thinking where was that push in game three? But game four did show that this Pacers team can turn it up when they get pushed. Even the Heat coach was saying the Pacers looked more like the desperate team, and no doubt because if the Pacers got down 3-1 in this series, you might as well stick a fork in it. But now, we’re all even, and the Heat are looking for answers as they started to put together that “heat run”, where they’re controlling the tempo, but the Pacers did what they needed to do. They locked down on defense, settled down on offense, and push ahead to the finish. Settling down on the offensive end is the big key for this Pacers team.
Too many times, they will get down in a game, and start pushing way too much. But if the Pacers continue to just get it in the half court, and work the ball around and inside out, this game will be theirs to take. They have to keep working the ball to Hibbert, who has to hit those easy shots that he’s been getting. The Pacers have to lock down on defense, and show that this Heat team it’s not all about just having a big three, it’s about having a big five, who all collectively work together. That’s what last night’s game showed. George Hill showed up at different times to step up. Lance Stephenson did his thing throughout the game. David West demanded the ball at times when the Pacers needed a score, and I believe he should continue to put his head down and score. Defensively, he looked strong at times. The Pacers getting their hands on deflections was a huge part of last night’s game. Now, they have to have their hands on ready in game five.
Each game gets more pivotal as I get more nervous that Lebron James is going to deliver that “LEBRON JAMES” moment, a moment when he truly takes the game over. Going into game five in Miami, the Pacers have to be careful about that. If there was ever a time for something of that caliber, it would be that. Paul George has to be ready to step up even more on the defensive end in game five because I have a feeling James is coming to play. But as long as the PACERS come to play, then the James’ performance shouldn’t be an issue. The PACERS as a whole unit have to bring their effort, and game five will be in their court. Beat the Heat, indeed.