Last night, the Indiana Pacers went back to Florida to face the Miami Heat in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers fought hard all season to get where they are, and now they are one game away from missing the NBA Finals. Tomorrow, the Pacers will host the Heat for game six in a win-or-go-home situation.
Indiana has fought tooth and nail to get through this series and make it to their first NBA Finals appearance since the Reggie Miller era. They already know they can beat the Heat – they've done it twice in this series and two times during the regular season. They know what they have to do to win. Consistently doing all the right things for six or seven games straight is not easy. Especially when Miami is making adjustments and changing how things are done, which Indiana has to then counter.
The Pacers lead the league in rebounds per game with 45.9, but they were also second in the league for points allowed per game. They allow an average of 90.7 points per game, and score about 94.7 points per game (23rd in the league). Rebounding is great, it certainly helps them keep possession of the ball. But if the ball is not then put in the hoop, it doesn't matter.
Miami, on the other hand, ranks last in the league in rebounds per game with 38.6, but they counter that very effectively with a 5th overall ranking in points allowed and points scored per game (95 and 102.9, respectively). Combine that with their 7th place ranking in assists per game, and rebounds clearly don't make an impact on the Heat's ability to win games.
So, if the Pacers want to best the Heat in games six and seven, they have got to capitalize on their rebounding ability. Get after the ball on each and every shot, just like they always do. And once the ball is in their possession, they must capitalize on both offensive and defensive rebounds to put points on the board. They can't allow a 20 point comeback like they did last night, and they absolutely cannot allow LeBron James to put up more points than they do in a quarter.
There are a few reasons, highlighted by SBO, as to why the Pacers might just nab it, including the high rate of turnover, home advantage and the tactical/motivational superiority of their coach. The Indiana Pacers are a young team, but they have the second ranked defense in the league. If they utilize their strengths on the defensive end of the court, scoring a basket will come that much easier, as will victory. Roy Hibbert and David West are the defensive leaders on this team. If they can be on top of their games and kick the ball out to Paul George, the Pacers will have an excellent chance of winning the next game.Tags: Basketball, David West, Eastern Conference Finals, Heat, Indiana, Indiana Pacers, Lebron James, Miami, Miami Heat, NBA, Paul George, Roy Hibbert