Tuesday, May 21, 2013

COURTSIDE VIEW: Pacemaker

Johnny J

Welcome to the first Courtside View entry.  I'm your host, Johnny J!  This week's topic is all about the Indiana Pacers.  

Indiana was real good at slowing down the high-powered New York Knicks' offense (RIP--Ed). The Knicks were actually ranked 11th in scoring for the regular season, averaging 100 PPG.  The Miami Heat, the Pacers' opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals, ranked 5th with 102.9 PPG.  The Pacers will try and make the Heat play at their pace, meaning plenty of half-court ball.  Indiana knows they can't out-score the Heat and I wonder, how much do they have left in the tank after going six games with the Knicks? Indiana only averaged 94.7 PPG in the regular season (92 PPG in the playoffs--Ed) and ranked a sub-par 23rd in the league.

With Miami only averaging 12 fastbreak points per game, I can really see the pacemaker Pacers controlling the game.  They have a "team" that can have a different leading scorer every game. Yes, they have a young star in Paul George (Johnny J wrote about Paul George last month: he's really "lights out"--Ed), but he still has a lot to learn, before I put him in the top-tier list of players in the NBA.

George is a player who can potentially average a triple-double with his style of play.  He doesn't need the ball in his hands every time to make an impact in the game.  But the ball does go through his hands almost every play. Whether it's on a rebound, pass, or shot. In the playoffs he has averaged 19.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. The most improved player at 22 has shown up!

The Knicks averaged 31.5 points from three pointers. They were second in the league, with the Heat, coming in third averaging 25.7. The Pacers averaged first in opponents three pointers percentage and field goal percentage.  The Heat likes to spread the floor, just like the Knicks did, but the Knicks couldn't hit their shots, averaging only 37% from behind the arc against Indiana. How will Miami learn from the Knicks mistakes?  Indiana, doesn't like to double team opponents. With defensive-minded players like Paul George, George Hill and Roy Hibbert, they don't have to. George was on the all-defensive second team and Hibbert could've been on the list as well. The tall, imposing freak had 19 blocks in six games (3.2 per game) against the Knicks.

The Pacers won the series 2-1 in the regular season against the Heat.  Both wins coming at home at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers were 30-11 at home in the regular season and 6-0 at home in the postseason.  As good as the Pacers are at home, it is imperative that the prove that they can win on the road in this series.  That is just a fact of life: Champions win on the road!  They finished up the Atlanta Hawks on the road and they also stole game one in New York. I believe they can do it. They have the attitude of a championship team, and they stayed composed throughout the playoffs.  They're not that deep off the bench, but neither is Miami.  I also acknowledge they are young and everybody on the court, regardless of position or size, attacks the glass. They were first in rebounds averaging 45 per game. They're like beasts on the glass (We explained how the Miami Heat have struggled against good rebounding clubs this season--Ed).

I see this series going seven games without a doubt in my mind.  The Pacers can match the intensity of the Heat, but it's going to be about "who is going to want it more?"  The pressure is more on the Heat.  Not only do they have three All-Stars, but one in particular, LeBron James, is being compared to as the greatest of all time (Numbers don't lie--Ed).

This maybe the last time the big three are together.  The pacers will crash the boards and they will not send double teams as every man can hold his own defensive assignment. It will limit the threes from the role players and it will be a physical battle.  I believe home-court will be a major factor, but I believe the Pacers will steal one in south beach.

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