Feed the Big Fella'
I feel like this bullet could count as 3 different points merged into one. First off, the Heat don't want to play big. That is not their go to strategy and that is why we did not see Spolstra run out any bigs in game one. The idea behind this is that he wants his small lineup to pull Hibbert out of the paint (more on that later), but when Hibbert has games where he puts up 19 and pulls down 8+ rebounds, the Heat will have to adjust and put a big in to slow him down. What does that mean for the Pacers? More favorable match ups. While David West did well containing Ray Allen last night, that is not a match up you want all series long.
Reason #2. Roy Hibbert is better on Defense when he gets a couple of easy Buckets early. We saw it in the Wizards series. If he can make a couple of quick buckets, his intensity overall goes up. When he is playing well on D, he can drastically influence the other teams attack.
Reason #3. When Hibbert is a force down low, the other Heat players have to help on him, which opens up Lance, PG, and Hill to shoot from outside, and makes for easier ball movement
Reason #4. When Roy the Pacers get the ball in the paint, they will either get easier looks or draw fouls. Both of which are positives.
Reason #5. If Miami continues to play small, it wears out Bosh and James trying to guard West and Hibbert. They are big strong guys and trying to keep them out of the paint wears on them. The result? Tired legs and missed shots.
Moral of the story: Get Hibbert the ball.
Make LeBron James beat you
Now, for many of you, this may read as the dumbest statement ever uttered on this blog. But hear me out! Lebron James dropped 49 against the Nets and they should have lost that game. It took the Nets blowing it the last 2 minutes for the Heat to pull that out. The fact of the matter is, while LeBron James is a very, very good basketball player, he cannot beat the Pacers alone. If you look at the last few years, when the Heat have beaten the Pacers. It has taken a strong game by someone else to make that happen. Whether it is a guy like Wade going for 20-30 or a Mike Miller stepping up and hitting a few 3's. The last thing that you want is someone else going off on you. The worst possible scenario for any Pacers Heat game is a guy like Ray Allen getting hot from outside because that alters the Defensive assignments and rotations. Yes, LeBron is a heck of a player. But make him have an all-world type of performance to beat you. Don't let another guy from the Heat get on the podium... or in double digits.
Make every possession count!
This is something directed more at a few Pacers rather than the whole team. The Heat thrive in transition. Particularly at home where they can build some crowd momentum off of a big dunk or a three. Add to that the fact that Hibbert won't be planted in the paint in transition and this is an easy way to lose games. There are two easy ways to do this. 1) Take good shots. The Pacers should not be settling for a contested 3 with 10-15 seconds left on the shot clock... EVER. Particularly if there are no rebounders in sight. Work the ball around and get a good look. It limits the chances for a long rebound or a fast break off of a miss.
The second way to make possessions count is to limit the turnovers. For all of the good things the Pacers do.... they throw the ball away a lot. Look where you are throwing the ball, make ball fakes, don't travel. These are little things that will limit Miami getting easy buckets.
Weather the storms
The Heat, as a veteran team, are going to make runs. They are going to hit a couple shots, get a steal and a dunk, make a crazy play that shouldn't have been possible (or legal). How the Pacers respond to these swings in momentum are crucial. Whether it is when they are ahead or behind (trying to hold off the Heat, or keep them from pulling away). The leaders, starters in particular need to step up and not let the problems magnify (see point directly above). Fight to the bitter end.
Control your emotions
For all the things I love about this team, the passion is a double edged sword that can bite the Pacers in the butt in this series. There is no reason whatsoever for the Pacers to get as many technical fouls in the playoffs as they have. The Heat are not above baiting a player into a technical (Lance, looking at your in the last home game against the heat in the regular season). The Pacers don't need to give up a free point and risk suspension (West and Lance have multiple t's in the playoffs). Keep your heads in this series. Act like you are the champions, keep your cool through all of it. And don't get pulled into the dirty plays that sometimes happen in games that are getting out of Hand (See Chalmers shove on CJ Watson).
As always, thanks for reading,
T.O. signing out