Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pacers vs. Heat – NBA ECF Preview – Game 1

Pacers vs. Heat – NBA ECF Preview – Game 1
The Indiana Pacers are back in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2004 facing off against the team that eliminated them last year, the defending champion Miami Heat.  If the Gold Gang want to steal Game 1 and jump into the driver’s seat of this series, here are the things that will get them there.

1.       Roy Hibbert’s Pick-n-Roll Defense:  #55 solidified his rep as the best rim protector in the NBA with the clutch rejection of ‘Melo in the closing minutes of Game 6 against the Knicks, but 4-time MVP Lebron James and the Heat will try to attack Roy after getting him away from the hoop. 

Bosh can hit the 19-footer, so Hibbert won’t be able to sink so far off him when Bosh is the screener.  Plus, all of Miami’s ball-handlers will come off a pick faster than Ray Felton ever did.  If Roy can contain the dribbler and recover to the rim well, the Heat shooters will stay covered.  Which leads to point number 2--

2.       Cover the Shooters:  The Pacers were among the best in the NBA this season at limiting their opponent’s effectiveness from 3.  The Heat have two of the league’s best at getting into the paint, James and Dwyane Wade, and surround them  with long-range shooters that take advantage of help defense to get open looks.

Indiana must stay close to Bosh and Battier (mostly in the corners), and Ray Allen on the perimeter—ALWAYS.  If Cole or Chalmers get going, you’ve got to stick with them, too.  Fewer open 3’s mean fewer Heat points.

3.       Attack on Offense:  Indiana has been a streaky shooting team from outside, but they’re at their best when playing in the paint.  Hibbert and David West have a size advantage on Bosh and Battier and have to use it to collapse Miami’s D and open up lanes for the rest of the offense.

Paul George, George Hill and Lance Stephenson should keep driving the ball and not settle for jumpers.  The more they attack on offense and make LBJ and Dwyane Wade work on defense, the less energy the Heat stars will have on the offensive end.

If the Pacers can be aggressive and attack on offense without turning the ball over and starting the Heat fast-break, they will not only take efficient shots but also give themselves a chance to set the defense against the 2013 championship-favorites.

Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments or shout at me @ehooks_317.

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