The Indiana Pacers took care of business to force a pivotal game seven with the Miami Heat with a 91-77 victory in game six, however it wasn’t a perfect victory as Roy Hibbert slipped up with the media following the game, and now faces disciplinary actions. The Indiana Pacers will have the momentum back in their favor when the teams face off one more time in Miami on Monday, how much that matters remain to be seen.
Momentum typically is a valuable thing to have in your favor, however it has had next to no real value in this series, neither team has strung together back to back victories in the series. Going to game seven is the only fitting end to a series that has been as competitive as any in sports this year. The back and forth action, trash talking, and hard nosed play has made this exciting throughout. A winner take all match in Miami will allow us to watch these two magnificent teams do battle one last time, for the right to take on the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Game six was a testament to the interior dominance that the Indiana Pacers hold over the Miami Heat. The advantage held in the paint was a huge 44-22. That’s a two to one advantage in the paint, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. Couple that with the fact that nearly half their points came from in the lane, and you have a serious problem to figure out if you are the Miami Heat.
Doubters of the Pacers ability to win this series could cite the fact that Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen was forced to sit out the game as a result of a suspension stemming from a flagrant two foul in game five. However the advantage has been held throughout the series, and Andersen isn’t exactly a star on the Heat roster. His return will certainly help the Heat in game seven, however they still need to figure out a way to contain Roy Hibbert and David West if they want to continue their bid to repeat as champions.
Lebron James needs some help from his friends. Game six was a solo effort from the league MVP, the rest of the team was bad enough that Reggie Miller described the team as the ‘Miami Cavaliers.’ Everyone not named Lebron in a Heat uniform combined to only make 16 shots on 31 percent shooting. Not an effort that is going to win many games at this elite level, however Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have the ability to turn it on and impact game seven if they can shake their recent funks.
Rebounding is another major hole in the Heat game that has been exposed by the Indiana Pacers. Gathering 15 offensive boards in game six with a 38 offensive rebounding percent. Numbers like that mean a lot of second chances, resulting in a high efficiency rating for their offense. If the Heat don’t find a way to get back to the fundamentals and rebound the basketball effectively, they stand a great chance of going home at the conclusion of Monday’s match up.
The NBA playoffs have been exciting throughout this year, and this perhaps has been its best series, by beating the Heat in game six the Indiana Pacers have forced a game seven that is a gift we all can enjoy. This game will be hard fought and close throughout. Both teams have given too much in this series to back down from whatever challenge is thrown at them. Look for the Pacers to stop Lebron at all costs, a triple team isn’t out of the question, and for the Heat to attempt to shore up their inside defense and rebounding.
Roy Hibbert could potentially have hurt his team’s chances at scoring the upset and advancing to the NBA Finals with an insensitive post game speech in which he used homophobic slurs and addressed the reporters with vulgarities. By slipping up and saying “no homo” after describing a play from the game, and swearing at reporters, he has put himself in a position where disciplinary action is likely. If Hibbert has to sit game seven, the Heat will benefit greatly as a result. In an attempt to make amends for his comments, the center reached out to Jason Collins, the NBA player who openly came out as gay earlier this year.
Whoever wins this series will secure the right to face the San Antonio Spurs, a team that has been resting and watching the drama of this series unfold for its final three games after they swept their Conference Final. The Spurs are a force to be reckoned with, dominating the NBA playoffs so far, whoever wins game seven between the Pacers and Spurs will have an even tougher task ahead of them. The NBA Finals are within reach, one team just has to step up and take it.
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The Guardian Express