Channing Frye hit a three from the right key and effectively ended the Pacers season. Technically the series isn’t over, but Frye’s three pointer ended any hope the Pacers had of bringing the series back to Indianapolis after Sunday’s game.
The craziest part of last night game wasn’t the 25-point blown lead by the Pacers, most Indiana fans could have seen that coming. Two months from now pundits will look back at game three as the beginning of a Cleveland team that could play championship level defense. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love didn’t play the entire fourth quarter because LeBron just said ‘F--- it, I’ll do it alone’. LeBron is a fantastic point-forward and to make Colts fans cringe, he looks like Tom Brady on the court picking apart defenses and defying father time.
Lance Stephenson unleashed LeBron in a way fans haven’t seen since 2012 when James's Miami Heat went down 3-2 in the conference finals to the Boston Celtics. Stephenson brings energy and enthusiasm to the Pacer’s but pushes LeBron into playing his best basketball. Even worse, Stephenson stopped being aggressive. Stephenson is not a great shooter but if he is open he has too shoot. How many times in the fourth quarter did Stephenson hesitate to take a shot when he had a good look? If Stephenson is going to be his enthusiastic self he also must be aggressive. Not just when he’s guarding or being guarded by LeBron.
The ball stopped moving in the second half. If you're a Pacer fan you watched the same thing happen during the fourth quarter of last year’s game 5 against Toronto, when the Pacers blew a 12 point fourth quarter lead. It’s amazing the more things change (Jeff Teague for George Hill swap, Nate McMillan for Frank Vogel swap) the more they stay the same. I’m starting to think the problem with this Pacers team is deeper and that Paul George is continuously played wrong.
Remember Larry Bird is obsessed with playing faster. The Utah Jazz are constructed the same way the Pacers used to be and they won 50 games in the Western Conference. The Jazz are the 2013 Pacer’s light; Rudy Gobert is Roy Hibbert, Joe Johnson is David West, Gordon Hayward is Paul George, and George Hill is playing himself. The Pacers played their best basketball when George was playing a small forward or shooting guard role just like Hayward.
In the first 5 minutes of game four we will know whether the Pacers can win or if they’ve already started thinking about they’re postseason vacations to the Caribbean. It’ll be interesting to see how Paul George plays because it could be his final game in Indianapolis.