02 June 2013

Can the Pacers pull off the huge upset against the Heat in Game 7?

Did anybody see this coming? Did anybody see the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers coming down to a do-or-die Game 7 on Monday night? That's because the Pacers have followed every Heat victory with one of their own, with the latest coming with their backs against the elimination wall as they completely shut down the Miami offense en route to a 91-77 victory. So the question must be asked, can the Pacers do what many considered unthinkable and beat the Heat?

So how has Indiana gotten this close to their first NBA Finals appearance since the glory days of the Austin Croshere era in 2000. It's a pretty simple answer: defense. We knew going in that the Pacers had an excellent defense, allowing the lowest opposing field goal percentage in the league, but their defense has been taken to another level. The Pacers have been playing brilliant team defense all over the court. Their work on the perimeter has been tremendous as they have forced Miami's shooters to take contested jumpers if they can even get them off, and Roy Hibbert's work on the interior has been fantastic as well. Hibbert has been playing some of the best ball of his career, which is important considering how the Heat are shallow in the frontcourt and love to go small, and his work in the paint has been great as the Heat have really struggled to score close to the basket. Overall, there is a big reason why Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been playing some of the worst basketball of their career in the series, and it is Indiana's D.

No matter how impressive the Pacers have been in this series, I still find it tough to pick them to win on Monday night. After all, the Heat have not lost consecutive games since the Bush administration (actually, it's been since January 10th). Also, even as the Pacers have been stifling on defense, they have fallen by a margin greater than 11 points in each game that has followed a victory of theirs. Their offense has also been inconsistent as well, because Miami is a darn good defensive club in their own right. Miami also has a guy named LeBron James, who may not be getting very much help, is still the best player in the world. But then again, if Indiana can push the Heat this far to the cliff, why can't they push them off?

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