Game 4 is going to be the most important game of this series (though, I guess, everyone says that about every game). But seriously — it’s the most important game of this series, because if the Pacers don’t win they’re sitting in a (not-so-pretty) 1-3 hole, which means they would have to win the next three games in a row. Against the Miami Heat. Who have the best player on the world. Who has been relatively unstoppable this series (averaging around 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game). Oh, and if that wasn’t reason enough, if the Pacers lose Game 4, history will not be on their side — only eight teams have come back from 1-3 series deficits to win the series.
What to expect:
I think it’s pretty cut and dry what Miami Heat — Indiana Pacers playoff basketball is about. Close, tense games, filled with physical play that go down to the wire (only exception to this rule is Game 3). LeBron’s probably going to try and man-handle Paul George in the post, like he did in Game 3, and how the Indiana Pacers deal with LeBron’s post play will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.
Match up to watch:
I’ve already mentioned the importance of the LeBron — Paul George matchup, but another matchup that has been crucial all series is Bosh vs. Hibbert. Bosh can hit the mid-range jumper, which means when he gets touches on the perimeter, he
1. Pulls Hibbert away from the paint (freeing up some driving lanes and creating some space in the basket area)
2. Because Bosh is about 1,000 times quicker than Roy Hibbert (though that’s not saying much seeing as a rock crazy-glued to a paper weight would probably be faster than Roy Hibbert) and because Roy Hibbert has to respect Bosh’s jumper, Bosh can either pump-fake and drive. And if Hibbert starts respecting the drive, Bosh can get a very clean look at a mid-range jumper, which is his bread and butter.
I suspect that getting Bosh involved in the offense more will lead to better offensive efficiency simply because Bosh — Hibbert is a mismatch and because Hibbert is no longer as much of a rim-protecting threat.
On the defensive side, if Bosh can do a better job preventing Hibbert from getting offensive rebounds, or tipping them to Indiana players, that would be really great — especially considering the fact that the Pacers have scored like 3,604 ponts off of offensive rebounds.
The Heat bench has been struggling mightily this series (the only exception is Chris Andersen). Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Norris Cole are a combined 9-for-45 from the field.
9. For. Freakin’. 45. That’s 20%.
I mean, 9-for-45 is so bad it would be a terrible batting average. That’s how bad 9-for-45 is.
And despite almost zero production from their bench, the Miami Heat have managed to take a 2-1 series lead. If the Heat can get any (and I mean anyyyyyy) production from their bench they’ll not only win Game 4, but the Indiana Pacers will not win another game.
I think the Miami bench, while not completely thawing from their ice-cold performances of late, might warm up a little bit and hit a couple crucial threes to help win this game for the Heat.
I’m thinking 93-86 win for the Heat.
I mean, the Miami Heat bench can’t be this bad for four games straight, right?
(Right? Right??? RIGHT?????)