May 5, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic point guard Chris Duhon (25) loses the ball to Indiana Pacers power forward Tyler Hansbrough (50) during the first quarter of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
It's a 3-1 series advantage for Indy, but that doesn't mean there's been a shortage of intriguing storylines. After the jump...
1. Paul George is a Great Defender (Disproving) - Let's scratch that label and make it right. Paul George has the TOOLS to be a great defender. Right now, he's a physical marvel who gets by defensively on pure athleticism, and scant fundamentals. PG's lazy work getting around screens, and lack of discipline on simple pump fakes is getting awfully difficult to witness for Pacer fans, especially when Indy's current playoff foe predicates its offense on those glaring weaknesses (heavy dosage of screens and offensive patience). Strange idea, but maybe it could work. If you're Indy's front office why not consider calling Reggie Miller in to work with PG in the offseason? And let's be clear, Reggie wouldn't be there to help PG's offense, but how 'bout his defense? No one knows the angle of a screen better than Reggie Miller whose career success was largely defined by his ability to skirt around screens, and lose his defender. He might just have the right insight to improve PG's lack of tracking skills.
2. Struggling Against the Magic Portends Sweeping Doom when Projecting a Pacers vs. Heat Matchup (Creating)- I know, I know, Indiana vs. Orlando still isn't over, so looking ahead to a playoff date in South Beach is mildly "jumping the gun" here, but many are already tiring of the viewpoint developing nationally that because Indy hasn't obliterated these Dwight Howard-less nobodies means they don't stand a chance in a potential Eastern Conference Semi-Finals matchup. Basketball is oftentimes about matchups, and, though hard to believe, this deep-shooting team from Orlando is a poor matchup for Indiana. The things they do well really expose some major Pacer weaknesses like forcing Paul George to fight through screens, or forcing Roy Hibbert out on the perimeter to play defense. The Heat, however, base much of their offense on superstar isolations and getting to the rim, which just so happens to be more in the PG/Roy Hibbert wheelhouse on defense. This isn't to say that Indy would beat the Heat if such a series were to take place, but to make an assumption on how that series would play out without considering/seeing the matchups screams obligatory superstar bias.
3. At This Point in His Career, David West is Best Served as a Heady Locker Room Leader (Disproving) - Statistically speaking, David West has been merely an average producer for the Blue and Gold, especially for a guy who's been a 20 ppg scorer at different points throughout his career. It's been easy to overlook his less-than-spectacular statistical output because Indy has done a lot of winning, and because it's been well-documented that he's played an integral role on the team with his cagey locker-room presence. Once mid-April hit, West started taking his game to another level, demonstrating a 1.5 scoring option to go along with his already mature/winning formula. The playoffs have only reinforced that David West has officially become the de facto No. 1 Pacer option both on and off the court. Even with a history of a torn ACL, and the fact he'll be 33 by the time his contract runs out, it's going to be awfully hard for Pacer fans and the organization to say goodbye to West who's really endearing himself to the Indiana faithful.
4. Despite What the JOB Era Taught Us, Sometimes It's Not a Bad Idea to Adjust What the Other Team Is Doing (Creating) - It was painful to watch the fourth quarter in game 4. Roy Hibbert was struggling defensively...and he was struggling badly. The onslaught of screens often left him out on the perimeter, unable to get to three-point shooters, and highly vulnerable to quicker feet. And yet, there he was the vast majority of the fourth quarter along with the struggles of the aforementioned Paul George, while a 19-point lead kept dwindling and dwindling. The adjustments were few and far between, some might say even non-existent until the game was basically all knotted up with OT on the horizon. Why not try Hansbrough or Lou sooner? Why not try a DC/Hill backcourt combination? If Roy's going to be in no matter what, why not involve him more offensively to offset what he's giving up defensively? Coach Vogel's a young-gun coach who loves to boast about the confidence he has in his guys, but there's another part of coaching that involves understanding the limitations of your players, and understanding when to use certain players' strengths to a winning advantage. The question has to be asked: Is the playoff version of Coach Vogel doing that effectively enough?