Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Game 4 Preview: The Miami Heat (2-1) At The Indiana Pacers (1-2)

If the Indiana Pacers lose Game 4, they won’t technically be eliminated — but they might as well be.  Only eight teams have ever come back from a 1-3 series deficit, and I have a feeling that the Indiana Pacers won’t be the ninth team if they lose to the Miami Heat tonight — I’m gonna go out on a huge limb here, but I don’t think the Pacers will be able to win three straight games against the Heat.

As we have pointed out ad nauseam (here, here, and here), Game 4 will decide if the Pacers travel to Miami on par with the Heat, or if the Pacers play Game 5 with thoughts of their impending and inevitable post-season demise (and perhaps, their off-season holiday plans for Bermuda).

Game 4 might not be Game 7, but for the Pacers it might as well be.  It’s do-or-die time, and the pressure that the Pacers feel to win (to avoid going down 1-3) has to be felt by the Heat, as well.  No doubt, the Miami Heat would want to nail the Pacers’ playoff hopes on Indiana’s home floor — but more importantly, the Heat want to go back to Miami with a 3-1 series lead, and the potential to close out the Pacers on the Heat’s home court.

So while the Pacers will feel pressure to not lose, the Heat will feel the same sort of pressure (essentially “Don’t eff this up!”).

Which means that Game 4 will be a tense, tense, TENSE, game.  Translation: some very physical play will be happening tonight.

Partly, this will be because there have been some “cheapshots”, perceived or real, throughout this series.

Exhibit A

Shane Battier’s Knee To Roy Hibbert’s Groin

Exhibit B

Dwyane Wade’s Elbow To Lance Stephenson’s Head

I think the Pacers will be looking for some payback — especially if they start getting frustrated.  I wouldn’t be surprised if more than five technical fouls are handed out, and at least one person gets thrown out — don’t forget, the Pacers will be fighting for their playoff lives.

The three keys to this game are

  1. LeBron’s success in the post, especially after he destroyed Paul George in the paint in Game 3.
    Will the Pacers double?  Will they not double?  All I know is that if LeBron goes off, this series is essentially over.
  2. Can the Heat bench contribute?  (I’m glaring at you Shane Battier)
    Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Norris Cole have sucked so badly that I almost threw up in my mouth watching them play in Game 1 and 2.  Luckily, it’s not like they’re getting paid millions of dollars a year to suck this badly.

    Yep, just threw up in my mouth again.

  3.  Bosh vs. Hibbert
    As I said in an earlier post

    “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.”

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