Game 4 – Details paramount for Pacers success
Leave it to the backbone of the Pacers, David West, to tell it like it is.
“We’re going to stick with what we’ve been doing all year,” he said after shootaround Tuesday. “We’re not going to overreact or force things. We’re just not going to do that.”
They haven’t changed for the opponent all season, so why start now? The Pacers know that Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is nearly a must-win because they can’t afford to go back to Miami down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. That would then truly be a must-win.
“To me, every game in the playoffs is a must-win,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. “That’s how we approach it and that’s how we’re approaching tonight.”
Though it’s not easy, they have the formula to beat the Miami Heat: Contributions from the entire starting five, limit turnovers, own the paint, and do not allow a Miami role player to go off. They did it in Game 2 and for most of Game 1 where they lost in overtime at the buzzer.
In tonight’s Game 4, it’s all in the details — throwing the first punch (figuratively, of course), spacing, ball movement, and making the Heat uncomfortable. Their defense, which led the league all season, has to come to play. From the tip. They can’t allow the Heat to shoot 63 percent, score a franchise-record 70 points and commit just one turnover by halftime, like they did in Sunday’s loss.
The Heat’s offensive spacing gave the Pacers fits, pulling Roy Hibbert out of the lane and posting LeBron James on the block, with only Paul George standing between him and the hoop. The Pacers may occasionally double-team, or throw West on him briefly, but they primarily must stunt and jab at James to keep him guessing. They didn’t in Game 3, so James had a field day by muscling his way past George or kicking it out to a teammate. Hibbert will have the challenge of keeping one arm on his defender around the perimeter and one hand ready to guard the rim, his specialty.
“We’ve just got to depend on our defense — communicate with one another, and make sure everybody’s active every single possession,” West added.
That’s a lot of it. Communication, hustle, aggression. When the Heat are scoring at such a high success rate, the Pacers have fewer opportunities to run and catch the Heat while they’re out of position.
“We’re a different team when we get out in transition, we can get deflections leading to transition,” Paul George said. “It’s a tough ball game when you’ve taken everything out of the net and have to setup, play offense against their set defense.”
The Pacers made some minor tweaks in shootaround but the script remains the same. Oh, and by the way, Gold Swagger is back. Every fan in attendance will receive a gold t-shirt.