Keys To The Pacers Beating The Heat

Keys To The Pacers Knocking Off The Heat

5/14/12 in NBA   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

May 2, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) celebrates after scoring a three-point shot during the third quarter of game three in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Amway Center. Indiana defeated Orlando 97-74. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
 
After a tough loss on Sunday, the Indiana Pacers find themselves facing an 0-1 deficit in their conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat. With the top seed in a weak eastern conference (the Bulls) being knocked off, it's hard to say if there has ever been a team more heavily favored to make it to the finals than the Heat, but it's not time for the Pacers to give up yet. The Pacers have advantages over the Heat in a couple areas, and if a few players are able to step up their game, the Pacers could have a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset. I understand that Chris Bosh strained his abdominal muscle yesterday, and that's a big blow, but I'm not going to address that just yet.

The biggest key for the Pacers in this series is Danny Granger. In his age 28 season, it seems that Granger is already past his prime. However, if he could find a way to return to his 25 year-old form, he could help his team immensely. I know it's easier said than done, but this guy is still a great talent, and he needs to find that clutch gene inside of him to lead his team to wins. I've always said, you'll find yourself hard pressed to win a playoff series if you don't have a player who can dominate the game for stretches and draw excessive defensive attention. Granger once did both of those things. In 2008-09, he averaged nearly 26 points per game on 45% shooting (40% from three). He was getting to the line 7 times a game and shooting 88% from there. LeBron and Wade are going to rip off individual runs now and then, and the Pacers need a player who can do the same if necessary; that player is Danny Granger. No doubt the Pacers are built on balance and teamwork, but every team goes cold, which means every team needs a star who can produce on his own when needed.

The big advantage for the Pacers is Roy Hibbert, the 7'2'' monster out of Georgetown. The Heat finished 21st in rebounding this season, while the Pacers finished 4th. There's no question the Heat lack a big, physical front court presence, and the Pacers need to take advantage with Big Roy. They need to put the ball in deep to Hibbert and let him go to work, as he's got 5 inches on Joel Anthony and 6 on Udonis Haslem. Where I see Hibbert making his biggest impact, however, is on defense. At 7'2'' 280 lbs, not even LeBron can muscle through Roy Hibbert for a big slam. With Hibbert guarding the likes of offensively inept Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem, he has the ability to roam in the paint and contest players driving to the rim for the Heat. He's failed to reach double digit rebounds only once in his 6 postseason games this year, and that needs to continue as well.
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