Indiana Pacers Ready for Third Meeting with Miami Heat
Trap game? Please.
Sure, a letdown was possible — the Pacers could’ve had their sights on sweeping the season-series with the Miami Heat on Sunday, but this wasn’t the case against a young, inexperienced Magic team.
Indiana got 25 points from their up-and-coming star, Paul George, on 8-of-12 shooting (4-of-5 from 3). George was too much for Orlando from the tip, as the Magic don’t feature anyone with the chops to effectively defend his combination of athleticism and size. George also got to the free-throw line five times on Friday and connected on each one — a positive sign for the 22-year-old, as he hasn’t been able to consistently find the charity stripe recently.
Another uplifting factor from Friday night’s victory is the combined 50 points from Indiana’s reserves. The bench has been under much scrutiny all season long, as head coach Frank Vogel has struggled to find consistent production from one Pacer reserve, let alone multiple players.
The real test comes Sunday, though. The third and final showdown with the defending champs will be used as a measuring stick for both Indiana and Miami. The Pacers took both contests earlier in the season from the Heat and the outside world has made sure the Heat fully realize that.
Indiana did set themselves up well for what could be a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview, however, as no starter played over 28 minutes on Friday night.
Ultimately, the Pacers were perfect against the Magic — George found his stroke after a rough game against Boston, the bench came alive, starters got an extended breather, and yes, they won the game.
Bring on the Heat.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry