3 Keys to a Pacers East Finals Win Over the Heat
Many are ready to simply hand the 2012-2013 NBA championship trophy over to the Miami Heat, but there are still at least two teams standing in their way and at least one of those teams is more than capable of knocking off the defending champs. That team is their Eastern Conference Finals opponent, the Indiana Pacers.
Not only did the Pacers win the regular season series with the Heat – by a count of 2-1 – but the Pacers present many match-up problems for the highly-touted boys of South Beach in the postseason as well. If Indiana is able to exploit those advantages and execute its own gameplan to perfection, there’s no reason to think the Pacers can’t advance to the NBA Finals this season.
Of course, a lot has to go right for this to happen, but it’s certainly not out of the question. Here are the three keys to an Indiana Pacers win in the East Finals this year:
1. Dominate the Glass
Being one of the best rebounding squads pitted up against one of the worst in this series, the Pacers should have no problem winning the edge on the boards, but they need to do more than that to really exploit this advantage. They really need to come out and dominate the glass, not just outrebound the Heat.
Winning the war on the glass with not only give the Pacers much needed second-chance opportunities, but it will also prevent the Heat from getting their own second chances, which they likely won’t need anyway. If Indiana doesn’t win the rebounding margin by a significant number, the series won’t last very long because we can reasonably expect that the Heat will shoot a better percentage from the field.
2. Stay Out of Foul Trouble
Another huge key to a potential Pacers win will be keeping their starters and rebounding big men on the court, which means staying out of foul trouble. This is obviously hard to do against the slashing LeBron James, who routinely gets to the hoop and gets to the free throw stripe. So, it will be up to whoever is defending James to keep him out of the lane and it will be up to Indiana’s helping bigs, David West and Roy Hibbert, to not commit unnecessary fouls.
Not only would foul trouble keep Indiana’s best players off the floor, but it would also help one of the league’s best scoring teams get easy points. The Heat are one of the better free throw shooting teams, so keeping them off the line will be essential to the Pacers’ winning chances.
3. Manage the Clock and the Game Wisely
If Indiana accomplishes the first two keys, it will likely be in several tight games during the series with the Heat, which means managing the clock and each possession down the stretch will be instrumental in pulling out crucial wins. Coach Frank Vogel will have to use timeouts wisely, stopping Miami’s momentum, while also setting up the right plays at the right time for his own squad.
If Indiana executes their offense, stays out of foul trouble, outrebounds the Heat and manages the game well, expect it to go the distance with the defending champs and even have a chance to advance.