Ten Takeaways from Game 4
For the second consecutive year, the Pacers and Heat are all even at two games apiece following a Game 4 in the playoffs. Below are ten takeaways from the Pacers’ 99-92 Game 4 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse:
1. Roy Hibbert has been outstanding in the playoffs, especially so in the Eastern Conference Finals. Through four games, he’s averaging 22.8 points and 12 rebounds — both team-highs. In this series, he’s been the difference-maker. In Game 1, when he wasn’t in there, LeBron James made an uncontested layup at the buzzer in overtime. The Heat’s No. 1 adjustment in Game 3 focused on getting Hibbert away from the rim, which he protects so well. It worked: the Heat were +16 in the paint and won the game. Hibbert’s efficiency has also stood out. He’s hitting on 54 percent of the shots he puts up, most around the hoop with his left or right hand. Along with David West, the Pacers have owned the inside game. The Pacers must make it a point to keep feeding the big fella inside.
2. With Lance Stephenson, the good comes with the bad. Tonight was no exception. Again he waved off his teammates when LeBron James defended him. He’s careless with the ball or will talk too much trash to opposing players. When mature Lance is focused and kicking, the Pacers are a different animal. His buzzer-beating 3-pointer helped send the Pacers into the fourth amped-up. Pacers coach Frank Vogel even said that Stephenson asked to shoulder some of the load from Paul George in defending James, the best player in the world. The key for Stephenson is containing his excitement and using it for good in the fast break, where he excels.
3. LeBron James fouled out. No, that is not a typo. LeBron James fouled out. He picked up five in the second half, and was disqualified with 56 seconds remaining. Even more wild, it came on the offensive end, which cost the Heat a critical possession as they trailed by four points. It was just his second time fouling out in his postseason career, dating back to 2006. Write it down because it likely won’t happen for at least another 128 games.
4. The Pacers had a couple of calls go against them, with the shot clock situation being the most prevalent. Instead of an 11-point lead, Tyler Hansbrough’s put-back was waved off and the Heat then went on a 14-2 run. The officiating, both ways, was concerning. The officials inserted themselves into the game far too often, causing the game to last eight minutes shy of three hours. Another prime example: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was shouting and signaling a play from the sidelines yet one official believed he called timeout. What’s important is that the Pacers played through their frustrations. Managing their emotions is imperative.
5. The Pacers have done a great job of getting to the free throw line by playing smash-mouth basketball. They have attempted over 35 foul shots per game and connected on 75 percent of them. The Heat, on the other hand, have attempted 35 fewer free throws in total.
6. LeBron James in the post was a non-factor. After scoring five field goals while playing in the post during Game 3, he was just 1-of-6 tonight. Paul George got his hand on a couple of balls and was less predictable. The Pacers also sent help at times. More than anything, the Pacers were active and tenacious in their pursuit of not allowing James to post up and dribble at will.
7. Miami’s interior game was nonexistent. Chris Bosh went 1-for-6, Udonis Haslem made 3-of-5 shots and the two combined for only five rebounds. And Chris Andersen failed to score or even attempt a shot in 19 minutes but he did manage to commit four personal fouls.
8. For the Pacers to win this series, they need more from Paul George offensively. Tuesday, he was 4-of-10 and finished with 12 points, the fewest of Indiana’s five starters. He’s also turning the ball over nearly five times per game. For him to take that next leap into the elite category, he’s got to shine at both ends when the light shines brightest.
9. Sam Young is doing just what the Pacers have asked. He has provided George relief in defending James and made some hustle plays. He was seemingly brought in this season to backup George in defending the opponents’ best wing. He helped contain James, scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in just 14 minutes. Game 1 against New York seems like awhile ago.
10. Pacers coach Frank Vogel seems to know just the right moments to fire up his team with a technical foul. Unhappy that Paul George was whistled for his fourth foul late in the third, Vogel expressed his disgust to Joey Crawford who, with no hesitation, T’d him up. The Pacers scored the final six points in the quarter — a three-point play by George Hill and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Lance Stephenson.