A win on the road in the playoffs. A win at Madison Square Garden. A win against the favored New York Knicks. A win with Paul George having an off shooting night. Those things came about because this Pacers team just put it’s head down, and out played the New York Knicks yesterday afternoon. A game that came one day after both teams played game sixes, and the Pacers looked like they’re ready to just roll through this second round, and move on to the Conference Finals. It’s one game, but it should be an important game now that home court advantage is in the Pacers’ court.
When it comes to the team game, the Pacers just know how to play it. How about D.J. Augustin coming off the bench, playing 13 minutes, and scoring 16 points? 4-5 from three point range. 5-6 from the field. 2-4 from the free throw line. All in 13 minutes of action. If he can even keep up a glimpse of that, the Pacers bench should be in great shape.
How about Lance Stephenson grabbing another high of 13 rebounds, which he just broke his own high a couple of games ago? He kept the balls in play all day, and even played solid defense. He’s a guy that I had said could be an X-Factor, and if he can level, the Pacers will be fine there. I get nervous with him and J.R. Smith out there as they’re two hot heads, and you never know what could break out. But I think Stephenson has some great guys around him to say hey let it go, and hopefully if anything did get to that, he would be the first to walk away.
How about Roy Hibbert’s 14 points on 6-9 shooting? For all the talk about Hibbert down grading on the offensive side, he’s really come around, and brought back that offensive touch he’s shown. But I think his defense, which wasn’t always measured in stats was great as well. Guys were colliding into him more than he was going into them. Raymond Felton was making short floaters over Hibbert, but that’s because he didn’t want to bring it in any closer. If the game stays as physical as it does, we’ll have to see how the refs call the game.
That could be a sign of how the Pacers will be able to control the tempo of the game. If they are able to body up the Knicks like they did in game one, they should be coming out on top again. The Knicks just don’t match up that strength and intensity of the Pacers. They have great shooters, and who knows they could light it up one game. But if the Pacers come out swinging like game one, this series will be all Pacers.