The do-or-die game also offers everyone but Paul George a shot at redemption after the Game 5 collapse which took a full team effort to completely fold when things had been going so well.
But the Pacers came back so strong in Game 6 on Friday night, with a fantastic team effort that allowed Paul George to merely play superstar minutes, remain a threat on both ends while others helped in the heavy lifting. The 18-0 second half surge straddled the third and fourth quarters and got a boost from the reserves who let the lead leak away in Game 5.
The fourth quarter beat down included multiple three pointers from Rodney Stuckey and Solomon Hill. The effort has built up a reserve of confidence heading into Game 7 that should make for an electric game with both teams taking their best shot.
The biggest compliment I can give the Pacers is that they are like a big city cockroach because they can drive opponents crazy. But shine the spotlight of success on them and they scurry for a dark, safe place...but they never die. And once again they will show up to drive the Air Canada Centre crowd crazy on Sunday night.
Some notes and numbers from Game 6:
- Myles Turner had four blocks and is tied with Miami's Hassan Whiteside for the NBA playoff lead with 19 blocks. The Rook also made some big shots down the stretch, easily handling the big moments of Game 6. Following the game, Turner recognized how lucky he is to be in this situation, playing high level post-season games as a 20-year-old rookie. One more block and Turner can break Roy Hibbert's franchise record for blocks in a playoff series.
- We may have to start referring to Solomon Hill as Steph considering how he's suddenly become a 3-point assassin. Solo has made 11 of 17 from behind the arc, shooting at a 64.7 percent clip during the playoff series. At that rate, maybe we should call Steph, Solo.
- Monta Ellis and George Hill were both aggressive on the offensive end in the same game. The duo combined for 26 points and nine assists, but scored 19 of those points in the third quarter when the Pacers set themselves up to go for the kill in the fourth.
- Paul George had a rough offensive night by his high standards but still finished with 21 points and completed the double-double with 11 rebounds. PG now has 16 postseason double-doubles in his career.
- The scariest part of Game 7 may be what DeMar DeRozan brings to the game. DeRozan seemed almost disengaged, even when the game was tight, in Game 6. He made just 3 of 13 shots and only had two free throws after being stymied by the defense of Paul George and Solo Hill.
- DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were more willing than earlier in the series to give the Pacers' defense credit for their struggles in the series. To DeRozan's credit, he didn't minimize the importance of Game 7 for the Raptors and their fans. "If we don't win Game 7, our season is a failure," DeRozan said flatly.
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