The Indiana Pacers live to see another day in these 2014 NBA Playoffs. It took arguably the worst playoff performance of LeBron James’ career to help make it happen, but here they are, gearing up for a crucial game six contest in the Western Conference Finals.
Lance Stephenson continued his mind games, James sat out most of the game with foul trouble and the Pacers did just enough down the stretch to hold off the Miami Heat at home in game five.
The Heat will say it was almost over. Despite James sitting with five fouls and Paul George going nuts in the second half (he finished with 37 points), they were still one Chris Bosh jumper away from going to a fourth straight NBA Finals.
Bosh has said tonight’s game six is Miami’s “game seven”. There’s no more time to waste on either side. A win for Miami puts them back on the biggest stage in the NBA. A win for Indiana gives them their first road playoff game against the Heat in this series and sends them back to their home court for a decisive game seven.
The question, then, is will we get there?
The recipe going into game five was for Roy Hibbert and Paul George to show up and for Indiana to get back to the defense that got them here. That fabulous trifecta is exactly what got them the win, and it’s precisely what needs to take center stage in game six, as well.
The Heat seem to play their best basketball when the pressure is on, but it seems that could be said for the Pacers, as well. Ultimately, this game is a toss up. Indiana is slowly stealing the momentum back, as they know forcing a game seven would give them a major advantage and a real shot at upsetting the Heat.
On the flip-side, Miami is still arguably the better team, can still afford to lose tonight’s game and knows they’re one win away from moving on. They just have to press the pedal to the floor and not look back.
Miami should be the favorite tonight and very well might win, but something tells me that the Pacers aren’t going to lie down and roll over. If they were going to, this series would have ended in game five. They might still fall short at home in a epic game seven, but they didn’t go through the entire year as the East’s top seed to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals and lose in six games.
Look for another big performance from Paul George as the Pacers narrowly send this series to a full seven games and back to Indiana.
Pick: Pacers 96, Heat 94