Welcome to the first official Devil's Take here at Indy Cornrows. Now, if some of you frequent Stampede Blue, you probably have seen at least one of my fanposts. If not, I won't hold it against you!
Winners of Game 3's in a series generally go on to win the series 4 out of 5 times. In Games 1 and 2, the Heat and Pacers both had chances to win either game, ultimately fading in the 4th quarter. In Game 3, the Pacers would start out dominate, allow Miami back into the game, and emphatically smother them with about 18 min to go in the game. The Pacers outright dominated the second half, only allowing the duo of James/Wade to score 13 pts. By all accounts, this was the Pacers biggest win in the playoffs since the Miller led Pacers went to the NBA Finals.
After the Game 3 loss, it was let out that apparently Dwayne Wade is still nursing some injuries from the regular season and it has impacted his performance. Chris Bosh went down with an abdominal strain, and now Lebron James is actually having to play instead of coasting through the game. I'm sure if you go to the Miami blogs you will see countless crying about the lack of calls going Miami's way in Game 3. It's all excuses.
The Miami Heat are just like 7 of 55 on 3 pt shooting. They've gotten like 60 points total out of players not named Bosh, James, or Wade in 3 games, 25 of which was from Chalmers last night. The Pacers aren't standing around in awe of the Heat. The Pacers aren't the injury-riddled Knicks. The Heat got the benefit of all the calls in Game 1. Turnabout is only fair play in Game 3.
Lebron James elbows:
While I think James is in fact a complete douche, the guy is still one of the premier players in the league. Still, his bush league crap in Games 2 and 3 is getting ridiculous. The flying elbow that almost connected with Granger in Game 2 is exactly what pissed Danny off in Game 3. There was no need for that crap in the game, and I for one was GLAD to see someone tear into James. It's almost like people are afraid to go after the guy. He's just like anyone else, you can get into his head and screw with him. Still, I was glad to see him choke on the technical free throw because quite honestly, he had no business shooting it in the first place.
For all the crying I'm sure Miami fans are doing right now about foul calls, the series has just gone that way. In Game 1, the Heat went to the stripe at will it seemed. In Game 2, the officials seemed to actually call it pretty close for both teams. In Game 3, there were stretches where the Pacers did in fact get the benefit. There were also stretches where the Heat got calls as well. At the end of the game however, both teams would get called for about 20 fouls each (Heat 21, Pacers 20 plus 2 Technicals). Still, the most glaring issue for the refs is how Lebron James has only been called for 2 fouls in the ENTIRE series thus far. I'm simply blown away by this. Say what you want, but he's clearly getting the superstar treatment and this is one HUGE reason why the NBA has fallen off.
Shock and Awe:
Since Miami debuted the Big 3, it's essentially been a forgone conclusion that they were the team to beat. Ironically, the teams that have beaten the Heat consistently have done it with one common thing: body blows. In boxing, they always teach you to hit the body, as the boxer will tire quicker, making his fighting and defense harder. The same thing applies here. Every team that has had constant success against the Heat has attacked them physically, pushing them back on their heels. It's a big difference when the other team isn't standing around in awe of who you are or what you are capable of doing. It's quite ironic that Wade would mention the Mavericks in his statements after Game 2, as they did exactly what the Pacers are doing now. They constantly attacked the Miami Heat, on the boards, on defense, and they NEVER backed off.
While the Pacers did in fact come into this series having gone 1-3 against the Heat in the regular season, it was and is a bad indicator of how this series will turn out. In 2 of the Pacers 3 losses to the Miami Heat, they would shoot an absolute abysmal shooting percentage and turn the ball over very badly. The other 2 games against the Heat were actually a much different story. At this point, David West was back to full strength and had become an integral part of the team. The Pacers were playing a better, more complete team effort in each game. The Pacers would push the Heat almost to a Double OT only to lose at the last second. In their final meeting of the season, the Pacers absolutely destroyed the Heat similar to how they did in Game 3. Tough defense, clutch shooting, and getting in the face of the Heat on every possession.
The Pacers cannot afford to look beyond Game 4 against the Heat on Sunday. If they can pull out a win here at home, it would essentially put a nail in the coffin on this series. Still, if we look beyond the Miami series, the Pacers actually match up well with all of the teams that are currently winning their respective series. The only team with a winning advantage against the Pacers is the Spurs, as they only played once. However, the Pacers went in a hole early in that one and just never got out of it.
- Did anyone else want to see David West just pummel Mario Chalmers last night? I watched Chalmers try to eyeball West and all I could do was laugh my butt off. West just looked down at him like do you have a death wish?
- Hibbert's play was simply fantastic last night. 19 pts, 18 rebounds, and 5 blks. That's a great stat line for a guy who has finally lived up to the expectations of him out of college.
- David West gets my vote for MVP of the Pacers for the season. His tough nosed, take no prisoners mentality has really started to filter out to the rest of the team. Adding to that a young savvy, defensive minded coach, and West has had a major impact on the Pacers as a whole. If I'm Larry Bird, I rip his contract up the moment the season is over, and sign him to a longer deal, perhaps 3-4 years.
- Danny Granger needs to start getting involved more on the offensive end of the game. He's passing up too many shots, even on bad shots, to give it other guys who are taking equally bad shots. I'd rather see Granger with a stat line of 4-17 then Granger 3-6.
- I know why Coach Popovich got COY this season, but I can't help but think Vogel was far more deserving. The Spurs were the best team in the West last year, and they only got better in the offseason. To say that were the Spurs finished is a shock, is just silly. The Pacers were picked to finish behind teams like Atlanta, Philly, and even the Knicks. However, the Pacers were the 5th best team in the NBA, and would have been a 3 seed in either the East or West conferences.
- Irony: Pacers traded their entire draft in the 2011 draft to the Spurs for George Hill. They have made the 2nd round of the playoffs due in part to the play of Hill. Kawhi Leonard, whom many were hoping the Pacers would draft, and subsequently dealt to the Spurs for Hill, is also in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Both players traded for in the draft have paid huge dividends for their respective teams since the trade.
- If the Pacers want to make moves in the offseason, they don't need to look at point guards. Nash, Williams, none of those guys really fix what the Pacers most glaring issue is. That issue, is the lack of a consistent scoring threat. The Pacers need a guy who can both start and come in with the second unit and consistently score 10-12 pts a game. Barbosa may be that guy, but realistically, the Pacers need someone like George to make that next step. If the Pacers can get a go to guy on their second unit, it would drastically alter their game. Nash is an interesting option, and if he could be gotten on the cheap, I wouldn't be against it.
As always, thanks for reading and I am glad to see the swagger back in Naptown. I can't wait for Game 4. GO PACERS!!!