On a night without starting point guard George Hill, the Indiana Pacers struggled on their home floor against the lowly Utah Jazz. For the majority of the game, the Jazz managed to hang around with the NBA‘s best team and almost came out with a surprising road win if not for the performance of David West to lead the Pacers to a close 94-91 victory.
West took the team on his back tonight after his teammate Roy Hibbert struggled to get anything going down low. Hibbert was a non-factor in his matchup with Derrick Favors, who worked the NBA All-Star in the low post and sent him to the bench in a hurry. The Indiana center managed to only play a meager 19 minutes, which forced coach Frank Vogel to turn to Ian Mahinmi down the stretch in order to get the victory. As impressive as Mahinmi was off the bench, West was the one who elevated his game the most.
The versatile power forward scored 25 points on 11 of 17 shooting from the field to lead the charge for the Pacers tonight when they needed him the most. West doesn’t get enough praise for the work he’s put in this season with Indiana as Paul George tends to steal the spotlight, but he may be the X-factor for the Pacers when they head into the NBA playoffs. The Eastern Conference will more than likely come down to Indiana vs. the Miami Heat and if there’s one weakness of the Heat it’s their lack of size down low.
West may be a little undersized himself, but his physicality in the low post more than makes up for his lack of height. To make things worse for Miami, when paired with Hibbert this makes the two a deadly combo to be reckoned with. The Heat really don’t have anyone to match up with one of these two and will have their hands full stopping them in the playoffs. If the Pacers continue to hold the No.1 seed in the East and get home court advantage, that could be the edge Indiana needs to get them to the finals this season.