To me it’s this simple, whatever team wins game five will win this series. I predicted the Pacers in six games, so I think they need to win this one, and get ready for a battle come game six. But how will the Pacers do what they need to do to get the win tonight? How about five points for game five?
1. Slow Down the Dynamic Duo- Lebron James and Dwayne Wade did lots of damage to the Pacers by driving in the lane and scoring. That’s got to stop. Someone has to step up and challenge those guys when they start to drive. They put up 70 points combined, which has to come down as well if the Pacers hope to steal this game.
2. Complete Game- We’ve seen the Pacers come out strong in the early goings of a game. We’ve seen the Pacers hit their stride in the third quarter. We’ve seen the Pacers take care of business in the fourth quarter. But I don’t think we’ve seen a complete game where the Pacers didn’t hit any lulls and really took control of the game from start to finish. That’s the type of effort it will take to get the win tonight.
3. Controlled Intensity- This is specifically to Danny Granger, who’s picked up three technical fouls over this series. It takes seven for a suspension, which I don’t think will happen. But Granger does need to watch himself a bit in this game because he doesn’t need to start any trouble where it’s not needed. He can focus his intensity on stopping Lebron James, as he’s been on him most of this series as a defender.
4. Take Advantage of Opportunities- The Pacers did miss some open looks, where they would have opened up the lead in game four, and who knows what happens then. That’s why it’s important for them to hit those open shots. Get scoring on fast breaks when they’re available. Get the loose balls and rebounds for extra possessions. Maybe even take advantage of the smaller lineup the Heat will put out there, and feed it to the big men down low.
5. Stellar Defense- The defense is what won the games where the Pacers were able to stop the fast pace of the Heat. They didn’t have an answer for Lebron James or Dwayne Wade in game four, so they need to figure out that this game. Also, stopping guys from coming right into the lane and shooting those little tear drops like Mario Chalmers was doing. If the Pacers can defend well, things should be in their favor.
Just another important game for this Pacers team who is looking for the respect of the NBA and everyone else. Sure they would still have to win game six, but coming home to a raucous crowd on Thursday night, would do wonders for the confidence of this team. I’m going with a Pacers win by five points or less for this one.