Game 7. No two words in sports bring more anxiety, excitement or build-up. The Indiana Pacers are deadlocked at 3-3 with the Toronto Raptors heading into tonight's matchup. Regardless of opinion on how the Pacers got here, the terrible game five loss is behind them. Here's a look at what to expect for the finale of this series.
1. Paul George will score 30+
Nothing too bold stated here, but if the Pacers season ends tonight I fully expect for PG to go down swinging. He is tied with the Cavaliers Kyrie Irving with a 27.5 point average in the postseason. This offense runs through Paul George and he is going to need to be on tonight for Indy to have a prayer. Specultation has that he wants to play all 48 minutes of this matchup, whether Coach Frank Vogel agrees remains to be seen. He's the star of this team and needs to show it tonight.
2. The X-Factor will be: Monta Ellis
There's no secret that Ellis is exhausted. The inconsistency has started to creep in a little, judging by last game's four turnovers. That being said, he enjoyed a fine night from the floor, 6-12 shooting and a 14 points. The Pacers need Ellils to be the rock and pass it too. He averaged 4.7 assists per game during the regular season which led the team. This number has dropped almost a full assist to 3.8, now second to Paul George in the category. This is even more surprising if you consider that Ellis has taken over the primary point guard touches over George Hill. If Ellis can distribute to open up some opportunity the Pacers offense will run smoothly.
3. The Pacers will win the Battle on the Arc
One thing the Pacers have done is outshoot the Raptors from downtown. The Pacers actually average a full made three-pointer (8.0 versus Toronto's 7.0) despite taking fewer attempts (21.7 versus Toronto's 25.5). To make a long story even longer, the Pacers need this significant advantage to pull out this victory. If the snipers (George and G-Hill) are on early, it could be a long night for Toronto's perimeter defense. The Pacers will hit those shots early and often. Arc: advantage Pacers.
4. The Pacers will Close the Gap on the Glass
For the series, the Raptors, on average, are outrebounding the Pacers 43.7 to an anemic 39.5. Even worse, the offensive glass gap is 14.2 to 9.8 in favor of Toronto. In fact, the Pacers haven't outrebounded the Raptors in this entire set. Where they need to close the gap is on the offensive side of the ball. In Pacer wins, they have been outrebounded offensively by 3.3 boards per game. That might seem less than stellar, but compared to the 5.3 offensive rebound difference in losses, it goes to show how gaining those couple extra possessions can swing a game. To say they will take over the rebounding game is unrealistic but the Pacers bigs will be able to make up the gap in this evening's game.
5. The Pacers will take Game 7
There is no reason to believe that the Pacers cannot and won't take the last game of the series. If the team that came out on Friday shows up tonight, we could have ourselves an upset on our hands. Considering the overwhelming majority of media outlets thought this would be a short series, the Pacers don't have much to lose here. They have shown that they can play with the top tier teams in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors are very talented and very well coached. I just think the Pacers have enough magic in them to take one more game on the road.