Funny how things can change.
After a Game 1 win against the Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers looked like, if nothing else, they were prepared to give the defending champs a run for their money. Even a Game 2 loss at home didn’t change that because the Heat were expected to bounce back and the game was still a close one.
After four games including three straight Heat victories, though, Indiana appears all but finished.
To be fair, the Pacers can still make a series of things. In Game 5, they return home where they already hold a win against Miami. A victory there on Wednesday gets them right back in the series and while it doesn’t seem possible to win three straight against the Heat, the Pacers can still at least make things interesting.
Game 4 on Monday seemed to seal their fate, however. After the 102-90 loss, Indiana just seemed deflated. That led to a few excuses, as might be expected.
Starting center Roy Hibbert kicked things off by blaming his scoreless performance on the game plan:
“The game plan really wasn’t to utilize me as much; I’m just trying to be effective as I can,” Hibbert said. “Would I like a little bit more touches early on? Yeah. But that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.”
First things first – I’m not going to completely dismiss Hibbert’s assertion that the game plan wasn’t built for him. Head coach Frank Vogel didn’t exactly deny that afterwards. However, Vogel also made sure to point out that Hibbert’s foul situation played into things.
That foul trouble seemed to factor into the center’s struggles. Even beyond that, though, Hibbert was still on the court for 22 minutes and while many plays may not have been called for him, as a 7-footer, it’s hard to believe that Vogel is completely at fault here. Even if the plays aren’t called directly for him, if he establishes solid position in the paint, teammates can find him.
Star Paul George, though, had an even bigger gripe – his was with the officiating, citing the big imbalance in free throw attempts (the Heat shot 34 while the Pacers only had 17). He wasn’t the only one who had problems with the refs as David West echoed his thoughts.
While George certainly may have a point, I don’t think he felt the same way when Indiana had a huge advantage from the charity stripe in the series opener, getting to the line 37 times to the Heat’s 15. LeBron James perhaps said it best in that the Heat turned the ball over much less and also scored 20 points off of Indiana’s turnovers.
The Pacers are clearly a frustrated team, hoping to finally get past the Heat this year – especially after their Game 1 win. At this point, though, it’s all water under the bridge. Indiana needs to put the excuses behind and find a way to win Game 5.
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