Caught in the Web: Pacers Quickly Shift Focus to Game 3

by Jeff Tzucker


Pacers Quickly Shift Focus to Game 3

May 16, 2012

Given the enormity of what they had just accomplished, not to mention the challenges overcome in the process, it was remarkable to see just how quickly the Pacers' focus shifted.

David West celebrates with his arms out in front of the Miami crowd

Immediately after stunning the Heat 78-75 in Game 2 on Tuesday in Miami, the players spent remarkably little time basking in the glow and instead turned their attention to Game 3 Thursday at 7 p.m. in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Danny Granger: "You kind of take a breath of fresh air right now. You came down, got one, got a split here, which is what you want to do on the road in the playoffs. Now with our fans behind us, we have to come out and play with an edge."

David West: "We can’t get too excited because we won one game. That is not our goal in this series. We can’t overreact because we were able to get one game down here."

George Hill: "It's great to have but it doesn't mean anything. It's one game. It means nothing tomorrow so we enjoy tonight. Tomorrow we've got to focus on Thursday."

Paul George: "We feel good. We battled them tough both games and came away 1-1. That's all you can ask for at the end of the day. We go back to our place and hope to continue the success we've been having so far."

The Pacers started 8 of 34 from the field to fall into a nine-point hole, had twice as many turnovers (20) as assists (10), shot just 3 of 15 from the 3-point line and had more turnovers (six) than buckets (five) in the fourth quarter.

Not exactly the ingredients for a victory over one of the league's most dominant teams—Miami had won 13 home playoff games in a row against Eastern Conference foes—but the Pacers found a way to get it done.

"Resilience," Granger said. "We really did find a way to win."

Granger described it as "a tough, nasty game" as well as "an ugly, ugly game."

It also was chippy, with Dwyane Wade picking up a flagrant foul for elbowing Darren Collison to the floor from behind in transition early in the fourth quarter, and Granger and LeBron James squaring off after getting tangled up under the bucket two minutes later./p>

As Coach Frank Vogel put it, "Welcome to Eastern Conference playoff basketball."

Pacers Adjust to Small Lineup

In the absence of All-Star power forward Chris Bosh, out with a strained abdominal muscle, for much of the second half to take control of Game 1. Though the Heat started big in the first and third periods of Game 2, Coach Erik Spoelstra quickly went small in both halves.

Dahntay Jones jumping high and getting a body on Dwyane Wade in the lane

It worked in the first half, as the small lineup outscored Indiana 29-17 to take a 38-33 lead into the break. It didn't work in the second. Most of the Pacers' game-turning 20-4 run in the third quarter came after the Heat went small.

"Their small lineup hurt us in Game 1," Vogel said. "You have to understand that we played against this the entire series (in the first round) -- now, different personnel obviously. You didn’t have two out of the top five players in the world.

"Stan Van Gundy’s defense is similar to Eric Spoelstra’s defensive system. The spread offense is a similar coverage for our defense. Our guys are used to playing that. They are dialed into the details of it, and they did a great job tonight."

Both Orlando and Miami used the small lineup as much out of necessity as strategy. The Magic entered the series without injured center Dwight Howard; the Heat likely will play the rest of this one without Bosh.

Bosh's Absence Felt by Heat

Miami certainly felt Bosh's absence. Beyond LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who combined for 52 points, no other Heat player scored more than five.

Without Bosh's offensive threat in pick-and-roll situations, the Pacers' big men could ignore the screener and sag to protect the rim. Miami's three post players—Ronny Turiaf, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony—combined for seven points, 12 rebounds and 3-of-13 shooting and Indiana won the rebounding battle 50-40.

"Once the ball goes up, we don’t even think about who is out. We just think about stopping the guys that are in," Vogel said. "We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel because Chris Bosh is out. We try to do what we do. We just do it better."

While stopping short of using Bosh's absence as an excuse, Miami's players could not ignore its affect.

"We miss his 18 points per game in the playoffs," Mario Chalmers said. "One of us (role players) has to step up. It is something we are working on. It is something we are going to do next game.”

Follow @conrad_brunner on Twitter

Related Content


  • Facebook
  • Twitter