Indiana Back on Pace

An all-around team effort and a third quarter surge gave the Indiana Pacers a much-needed 93-78 win at home in Game 2. The Pacers looked more like the hot team that entered the playoffs winning 12 of their last 15 games instead of the tentative and weak team that took the court in Orlando’s Game 1 victory. Indiana had three players score 18 points (Danny Granger, David West and George Hill) and five players score in double digits, including Leandro Barbosa, who was one of many role players to disappear in the playoff opener. They looked like a much more coherent unit and got a crucial home win, tying the series, 1-1.

However, the Magic still have a few reason to keep their heads up and Indiana should definitely not feel too comfortable. Because even though the Pacers returned to balanced scoring and played better defense, Roy Hibbert is nowhere to be found so far in the postseason. Hibbert pulled in 13 rebounds, but scored only four points on Orlando’s center Glen Davis, who is five inches shorter. In fact, Davis dominated Hibbert on both sides of the floor again in Game 2, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic. If Orlando’s perimeter shots had been falling, this would have been a much more competitive game. Hibbert will need to show up and be an advantage down low for the Pacers at some point, especially with the series going back to Orlando now.

Glen Davis had outplayed Roy Hibbert so far. Indiana needs that to stop.

Another factor that could be troubling as this series plays out is how Indiana plays in a close game on the road. Granger and the rest of the Pacers looked mortified down the stretch of Game 1 and that was at home. So if Indiana becomes locked in a close game with this dangerous 3-point shooting team, the third-seeded Pacers could have problems. Finally, shooting better shots is a definite issue for this team. Granger had 18 points, but went 1-for-10 from 3-point range. When the shots aren’t falling, you’d like to see your team’s leading scorer figure it out quicker and start attacking the basket.

All things considered, Game 2 was an expected win for the Pacers after being upset and embarrassed by an undermanned Magic team at home in Game 1. However, it’s significance shouldn’t be downplayed; this was an extremely important game with the series going back to Orlando. Indiana really needs to win both games in Orlando coming up so they can put the series away at home, but the Magic have too much pride, the city of Orlando has too much to cheer for, and now Glen Davis and company have had a wakeup call that they can’t win on raw emotion and playing for their coach alone. Expect them to be more focused and protect their home court for at least one game. It’s surprising that this series could potentially go to six or seven games after Indiana dropped its home opener, but give Orlando credit for competing. I picked Indiana as my sleeper team a long time ago and I still stand by that prediction, but so far, the Pacers have not been playing good enough basketball to go anywhere beyond the first round.

George Hill had a solid performance for the Pacers. If Hibbert continues to disappear, Indiana will need more from him.

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