Three seasons ago the Indiana Pacers made a move in the offseason that would greatly impact their roster for the years to follow. Power forward David West was ending his eighth season at the time and was ready to move on from the New Orleans Pelicans (Hornets at the time) and look for a team to potentially win an NBA championship with. Since that time, the Pacers and West have had a perfect match as he has been a leader for this team leading them to a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this year.
Being known around the league for his physical stature and workhorse effort, West is usually not going to put up numbers that will jump off the page, averaging only around 14 points a game this season. He might not be the best player on the team, but he may very well be the most important. When the team is struggling or even when they are trying to keep their momentum going, they almost always look to get the ball to David; he is an experienced veteran and will make the tough shot or look to make a pass to an open teammate.
His leadership was once again evident last night in the Pacers’ dominant win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. West scored 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. He also was very efficient, hitting eight of his 11 shots from the field. It just seemed that all night the Heat had no match for him especially when it came to the pick-and-roll offense leaving West repeatedly open for his mid-range jumper.
Going forward the Pacers have to feel good about their current position in this series, knowing that a win tomorrow night at home could really shift the pressure onto LeBron James and the defending champs. I’m looking for another big game from West and not only in the scoring department; Miami will likely change up the looks he sees, possibly even bringing the occasional double team. West leads his team this postseason in assists and will not hesitate to hit an open teammate to help them win. If I’ve learned anything watching West play, it’s that numbers do not matter to him and winning is everything.