Game Time Start: 8:00 PM EST
Where: The Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Officials: S. Foster, M. Davis, K. Mauer, D. Jones
Media Notes: Indiana Notes, Miami Notes
Local Radio: WIBC 93.1 FM
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NBA League Pass Broadband (subscription req'd)
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Series & Season Records: 2
Upcoming Games: May 26 at
GAME 7 - If Necessary
Projected Starting Lineup: C PF SF SG PG HIBBERT WEST GRANGER GEORGE HILL Projected Starting Lineup: C PF SF SG PG TURIAF BATTIER JAMES WADE CHALMERS
Danny Granger - Softball Ankle (probable)
Lance Stephenson - Dexter'd in Miami (probable)
David West - sprained knee (probable)
Chris Bosh - Lower Abdominal Strain (out indefinitely)
Udonis Haslem - Tough Pill Overdose (suspended)
Dexter Pittman - Dexters in Miami are usually more subtle about their violence (suspended)
Extremely Relevant Video:
Eight Points, Nine Seconds Preview: Tim Donahue: Some Thoughts About Game 6
Tonight, in the Fieldhouse, the Indiana Pacers face elimination at the hands of the
Miami Heat. Just a few days ago, the Pacers were perfectly positioned to take control
of the series, and really, move onto the Eastern Conference Finals. On a day where
nothing short of greatness from LeBron James and Dwayne Wade could change the
direction of their season, the Miami duo delivered. Two days later in Miami, the Heat
rolled, and the Pacers basically rolled over.
And here we sit.
So, heading into tonight’s game, here are my thoughts on a few things:
Danny has to be Effective
In my opinion, the Pacers’ chance begin with this, and they’ll end with it if he’s limited.
The Pacers need him to be able to hit shots, and they need him to be able to chase
LeBron, but mostly, they just need him.
When Granger went down on Tuesday night, the Pacers staggered. While it’s true they
hadn’t played well up to that point, Indiana was still within a bucket when it happened.
Also, they probably hadn’t played as poorly as they did in the first half of Game 2 –
which they ended up winning. For all the flak Danny gets, he’s crucial to this team.
Put simply, they are significantly less talented without him. But more that that, they
are incomplete. This illustrates a point that I’ve been trying (and failing) to make all
season. That is that the Pacers are actually more susceptible to injury – generally –
because they rely on more players.
Consider this: For Miami to be a good (read: playoff team), they basically just need
LeBron to be healthy and productive. To be a threat to win the Eastern Conference
Title and perhaps even an NBA Title, they need LeBron and one of either Dwyane
Wade or Chris Bosh to be healthy and productive. (I’m not sure it matters which.)
If they have all three, then they are favorites in the East, and at least even for the
title. In effect, as long as they don’t lose LeBron, they are better than most teams.
For Indiana to play at this level, however, they pretty much need their top six
players – Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Paul George, and Darren
Collison – to play well. In addition, they probably need a good contribution from
Leandro Barbosa, and they need the rest of the bench – Hansbrough, Amundson,
Jones – to at least tread water. While they have more bodies that help, that’s also
more pain for the whole when any one is either hurt or unproductive.
Further, they are built this way. This probably goes a long way towards explaining
their propensity for what fellow contributor Jeremy Comstock called “vomit inducing
losses.” They lean on each other so much, that when one falls, they all fall. And
while they’re all important, Danny Granger probably bears more weight in this
foundation than any player with the possible exception of David West.
Does that mean that the Pacers would have won Tuesday, or will win tonight if
Danny were healthy? No. It just means that I can’t see them winning without him
being a meaningful contributor.
The suspensions are irrelevant
There was a bunch of hubbub about the flagrant fouls on Tuesday night, and the NBA
came out with further punishment yesterday. None of the players involved are of any
significant meaning to the series.
Udonis Haslem suspended for Game 6 - At one point in his career, the loss
of Haslem would have been crippling. I don’t think that’s true any more.
Though some will point to his Game 4 performance, I will argue that while
his points hurt, the Pacers were beaten by the outrageous performances of
James and Wade. James and Wade are the difference. Haslem is not.
Tyler Hansbrough upgraded to Flagrant 2, will play in Game 6 – I’m sure
many Pacer fans will argue, but I don’t see Tyler as a factor. He will play,
and because of that, he has the chance to make a difference. I just don’t
think he can or will. After scoring 22 points on 10-for-19 shooting in his
playoff debut, Tyler has averaged 5.6 points on 31% shooting over his
last 14 playoff games. This playoffs, the Pacers are a net 10 points per
100 worse with Tyler on the floor, and their overall rebounding
percentage drops from 54.3% to 47.6%. I see his reprieve as no real
cause for celebration.
Dexter Pittman suspended for three games...Really. Does anybody care?
Were these penalties appropriate? My opinion isn’t of any consequence, which is why
it’s so easy to give it. I’d say Haslem’s appropriate, Tyler’s too light, and Pittman’s
way too light.
My take: the fouls committed by both Haslem and Hansbrough is that they were
defacto punches. Haslem has no real grounds for defense, and the fact that he
caught Tyler in the shoulder instead of the face is really just happenstance. Given
the size and motion of the players, the force involved in the blow was probably
greater than any punch that I – or most of the people watching – could throw. It
was intentional, and it was clear retaliation. Plus, Miami had probably used up
their get out of jail free card when Wade was not suspended for Game 3.
Hansbrough’s situation is fuzzier...CONTINUE READING AT 8p9s
Heat Index Preview: 5-on-5: What happens in Game 6?
Suspensions have been handed out. Motivational tactics have been deployed. What will
we see from the Heat and Pacers after their eventful Game 5? Here are 25 takes.
How do you expect the Pacers to respond after Larry Bird called them "soft"?
Tom Haberstroh (Heat Index): By exploiting the David West-versus-Shane Battier
matchup. To me, this is all about West and his inability to put a dent in Battier. Battier's
crafty, but the listed weight difference of 15 pounds might be the biggest lie in sports.
The matchup should resemble a bowling ball barreling toward a bowling pin, but the
Pacers have been throwing gutter balls instead.
Beckley Mason (ESPN.com): With their backs pressed firmly against elimination
and playing in front of a passionate home crowd, the Pacers will give every ounce of
effort they can muster. But I don't think this will translate into further gratuitously
physical play. The referees will be quick to control the game, and the threat of ejection
or suspension is too powerful this late in the series.
Rob Peterson (ESPN.com): After getting shellacked by 33 points in Game 3 of the
1984 Finals, Bird called his teammates "sissies." What happened in Game 4? We got
McHale v. Rambis. I don't expect Tyler Hansbrough to clothesline Shane Battier, but I
also don't expect the Pacers to shy away from the Heat, especially with 18,000-plus
Pacers fans and one Hall of Fame team president expecting tough basketball.
Michael Wallace (Heat Index): Expect the Pacers to be a bit more inspired and
energetic in front of their home crowd in Game 6. Of course, that was to be expected,
regardless of Bird's provoking his team. Indiana responded well to adversity in Game 2
and has every reason to do so again now.
Brian Windhorst (Heat Index): I expect they'll play with aggression and
desperation. Not just because of what Bird said but because it's an elimination game at
home. Plus the Heat are shorthanded.
Fact or Fiction: We'll see two or more flagrant fouls in Game 6.
Haberstroh: Fiction. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Pacers player retaliate with
a hard foul and then get tossed early. But after that, I can't imagine the teams would
risk a key player missing Game 7 or the beginning of the Eastern Conference finals.
Game 5 wasn't an elimination game, but too much is at stake now to let emotions take
Mason: Fiction. At least not from the Heat. If the Pacers get desperate, things
could escalate in a hurry.
Peterson: Fiction. Expect the refs to try to get things under control early and
expect them to call a flagrant at the first sign of chicanery. The officials, the teams and
the league can't afford to let this game get overly physical. Do you think anyone wants
to see a star suspended for a possible Game 7? If either side is smart, they'll realize
the best payback comes in the form of a victory, not a welt on the head.
Wallace: Fiction. Tough, physical play is a part of both of these teams' makeup
when healthy. But I don't think either is an intentionally dirty squad of cheap-shot artists.
There's too much at stake in Game 6 and potentially Game 7 for any of the key players
to risk delivering a line-crossing hard foul. Of course, Lance Stephenson and Juwan
Howard can have at it any time.
Windhorst: Fiction. The Heat cannot afford to lose any players. There's also a
no-nonsense officiating crew that's been sent in, with Marc Davis, Scott Foster and Ken
Mauer. That group will be quick to respond to any borderline play to set the tone.
Fact or Fiction: If Danny Granger is hobbled, the Pacers are done.
Haberstroh: Fact. The game blew open as soon as Granger limped off the court
in Game 5. Remember, the Heat were up by just three points when Granger made his
first visit to the locker room, and then the Pacers couldn't score. All in all, the Pacers
were destroyed without him, being outscored by 29 points in 28 minutes while he sat
out. Who's going to get buckets if Granger can't?
Mason: Fact. If Granger isn't 100 percent, the Pacers might still get something
from his shooting, but the real issue is that he's Indiana's primary LeBron James
defender. Overmatched though he may be, at least Granger allows Paul George to
focus on Dwyane Wade. Missing him would cripple the Pacers' ability to keep James
and Wade out of the paint and increase the stress on Hibbert's help defense.
Peterson: Fact. In the last two games, Granger's been known more for his
bark than his statistical bite. His lack of production has been part of the reason the
Pacers have stumbled in their last two. If he's hobbled and the Heat don't need to
account for him when on defense and can attack him when they're on offense,
Granger's a liability, not an asset. And if he can't help, the Pacers will be in trouble.
Wallace: Fiction. Although that certainly will be the case if both Granger
(ankle) and David West (knee) are out or significantly limited with injuries they
sustained in Game 5. One of Indiana's greatest strengths is its depth. The boost of
playing at home can help the Pacers deal with one of those catalysts being hobbled,
but not both.
Windhorst: Fiction. I wouldn't say done. The Pacers have a balanced team
and a balanced starting five. But let's be honest: He's going to be hobbled. He left
Game 5 in a walking boot. It's a bad time for their leading scorer to get dinged.
Fact or Fiction: The Heat will really miss Udonis Haslem.
Haberstroh: Fact. Putting aside the toughness and leadership value of Haslem for
the moment, if you look at the numbers...CONTINUE READING AT HEAT INDEX
HoopSpeak Review: Zach Harper: Time to stop beating a past horse or something
We all seem to miss the good old days.
Back in the day, you could foul guys hard and it wasn’t a national crisis. NBA players
were able to settle their differences on the court within the game. Occasionally it
would get out of hand, but for the most part everything was handled without things
getting too heated. Elbows were thrown at heads to clear out for a rebound and nobody
batted an eye… you know… after they ducked out of the way from those human razor
blades. Punches could be thrown without needing to bring in dozens of pundits that try
to decide just how much of the season a guy should miss.
And most of all, you could clothesline a guy in the middle of the NBA Finals to ensure
the other team that there wouldn’t be anything easy allowed for that series. Check out
Kevin McHale and Kurt Rambis.
Can you imagine if that happened today? Would they even finish the game? Would
Twitter melt down? If this were Ron Artest doing the clotheslining, would we find out
the National Guard’s response time that evening?
When we see what happened between Tyler Hansbrough and Dwyane Wade or Udonis
Haslem and Tyler Hansbrough or Dexter Pittman and Lance Stephenson in Game 5
between the Pacers and the Heat, a lot of people’s first reaction is to claim these fouls
aren’t that bad and that people shouldn’t be complaining about them. It’s a badge of
toughness to not think it’s a big deal because “it didn’t use to be this way.”
For some reason, this becomes a war of acceptance between the youth of today who
may be conditioned to be outraged by such “excessive” fouls and the elders who think
the league and society are going soft. But it’s not really about people being soft or the
game being tainted by fragility. What used to happen in the 80s and 90s worked for the
80s and 90s. During the late 70s, they endured the Kermit Washington punch in a time
when the NBA was barely a slight fraction as popular as the game is today.
Things used to be called and ruled differently because the business of this league used
to be on a much smaller scale...CONTINUE READING AT HOOPSPEAK