As I write this, I’m not going to hit anyone with journalist stats. I don’t want to use any jargon that may confuse anybody. I want this piece to be debated. I want barber shop talk off of this one. I’ll begin it simply by saying this; no matter what you think you may know about the Miami Heat, Paul George and the Indiana Pacers has his number. While I’ve said before, and still hold to, that the Heat will still be the ones to walk out of this series, if there’s anyone that has sincerely placed fear in the hearts of the Heat, it’s been the Pacers. Lance Stephenson doesn’t care about LeBron. George Hill really doesn’t know who Dwayne Wade is, and from what we saw a couple of nights ago, Paul George doesn’t give a damn about Chris Anderson. Put that all together, and you simply have a team who doesn’t give a you know what. It’s these types of teams that your fear in the playoffs. Indiana has nothing to lose. No one expects them to win a championship anytime soon. The best thing you may ever see out of Gerald Green’s career is more crazy dunks. The Pacers have been the underdogs of the playoffs in nearly every series they’ve been in. However, for some reason, they managed to pull it off when most of us (including me) have written them off. With that being, who does Indiana remind you of? I’ll give you a hint; they wore red, blue and white, and featured some dude with an afro…The 2003-04 Detroit Pistons. The Pistons of that era were underdogs for years. However, they always managed to pull it off. No one really knew how they did it. They just did it. Ironically, in their 2004 ECF series against the Pacers, they were the underdogs that beat goliath, solidified with one huge block. This is the same type of team we are looking at now. While these Pacers will likely not end their season the same way the Pistons did (with a championship), they will solidify a legacy this season; they fear no one. The Pacers are the new, new Bad Boys.
Remember when I said that I wasn’t going to give you a stat line in this piece? I lied. Paul George has had an exceptional post season. This post season, he’s averaged 13ppg, as well as 6rpg. Those points have been peppered with dunks, put backs, and simply making defenders look like idiots on the court. Paul George has truly played like an all-star this season, and therefore has been awarded for it with a deep playoff run.
Lance Stephenson has also had a pretty decent playoff run this season. Stephenson is nearly averaging a double-double with 9ppg and 8rpg. This is incredible considering that the Pacers have won most of their games in Piston-esque defense. The style of defense that the Pacers have played is designed to shut down the inside; forcing opponents to work form the perimeter. This has worked for the Pacers during their series with the Heat, except for that game winner from LeBron. However, as long as Roy Hibbert is on the floor, players think twice about taking the ball to the hole. The Knicks had no answer for this defense, and is Ray Allen doesn’t get hot soon; the Heat will likely have to ride the LeBron train for this one.
Think about the Detroit Pistons of old for a minute. Remember how in 2004, the only way you were getting to the hole against the Pistons was if you had soap, water, and a squiggie? This is the same thing we’re seeing from the Pacers. Teams have finally realized how to stop the Heat. It’s simple, make them shoot. True, the Heat led the league in three point field goals this season. However, the Heat are also very streaky. This could mean that the offense solely lives off of LeBron, which means that LeBron would have to put on his best Michael Jordan impression if he hopes to carry the Heat. The bad thing about that is if the
Pacers defense is as good as I think it is, they’ll impose “Jordan rules” on LeBron, tripling him in the paint, causing him to dish the ball to a currently poor three point shooting squad. There are ways to stop Miami, and the Pacers could have the answer.
Of course, David Stern would never allow an Indiana, San Antonio NBA finals. There’s not enough money in that. Expect a lot of whistles tonight. Miami’s best bet against Indiana will be to get the refs on their side. Seeing how Dwayne nearly decapitated Lance Stephenson in the middle of the court without a suspension. This makes no sense to me. Then again, I’m not from Miami. Needless to say, Miami has this one won; but between the rest of us, we know who really controls this series.