Despite winning game one of the Eastern Conference Finals and appearing to be in control against the Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers enter Monday night’s game four with their backs against the wall.
The Pacers have dropped two straight, one on their own floor and the most recent in Miami, and will have to find a way to steal a road win to pull the series to a 2-2 tie.
It won’t be easy, as the Heat simply don’t lose at home very often – especially not in the playoffs. However, recent history is somewhat on Indiana’s side, as they have stolen two games in Miami over the past two years. To win this series, they might have to do that twice.
That’s not their line of thinking going into game four, however. Rather, the Pacers are approaching a must-win game with confidence like a seasoned group of veterans.
‘We’re pretty upbeat,” Indiana big man David West said. ”We don’t get down on ourselves. The next game is a different game.”
It’s true, too. Indiana had game one in full control and could have stolen game three had they not gone cold down the stretch. That, and Ray Allen came alive for the Heat at the exact right moment late in the game.
Indiana knows there is a lot at stake in this crucial game four, but they also see the benefit of gritting out a tough road win. A 2-2 series tie could have them returning to their home court with a major advantage in game five, potentially allowing them to take a commanding 3-2 lead in this series.
You won’t catch them looking that far ahead, though, as they know full well how good and determined this Heat team is.
With that said, the recipe for success remains the same: play gritty defense and get solid output out of their big players. The icing on the cake, however, needs to be a big game from star forward, Paul George. George shined in the game one win, but has been subpar at best since.
If George can catch fire and the Pacers play the defense they’ve come to be known for, this series should be tied up and be as intense as ever.
Pick: Pacers 103, Heat 99