The Indiana Pacers recaptured the home-court advantage last night defeating the Washington Wizards 85-63. While the game was back in fourth in the first half, the Pacers pulled away in the third quarter and never looked back. They were led by Paul George who scored 23 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. They have now positioned themselves to really make a statement by taking another road game tomorrow night and coming back to Indianapolis up 3-1.
The most impressive part of the win last night was the balance from the team and the strong defensive effort. The Wizards shot a combined 24-73 (33%) from the field and really struggled all game getting the ball into the basket. Although a lot of that can be chalked up to just having a bad night, the Pacers defense also played a big part in the poor shooting. We are quick to forget that before this team started its end of the season struggles they were dominant, and this was because of the incredible defensive they displayed. This team is never going to be consistently great on the offensive end, but that will not matter if you can hold a playoff team to only 63 points.
A large part of this defensive success can be attributed to the big man in the middle Roy Hibbert; he has now had back-to-back solid games for the first time of the 2014 NBA playoffs. He was able to swat three shots but his effectiveness goes way beyond that. His ability to alter shots in the lane, specifically when Wizards point guard John Wall is able to penetrate, is something that can easily go unnoticed. He is one of the key elements to this team and if the Pacers want to keep the success going, he needs to be playing well. Two games is not enough for me to say that the Hibbert of last year’s playoffs is back, but he sure has looked good in the last few games. If he can keep this up it won’t be long until we all get our wish, a Miami and Indiana Eastern Conference Finals showdown.