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Preview: Pacers know what to do. Heat know it’s coming. Whoever executes wins.

May 28, 2013, 5:44 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game Three Getty Images

Somewhere around Game 4 or 5 of a series there are no more secrets. You know the other team’s plays, the tendencies, the adjustments they made, the matchups they are trying to force. You take away everything you can and try to leave your opponent with only the worst options.

We are at this point in the Eastern Conference finals, basically. It’s 2-1 Heat. For Game 4 there will be adjustments but the Heat have a really good idea what is coming. You can bet the Pacers are going to start throwing different looks at LeBron James in the post, fronting, doubling from different angles. LeBron is a gifted passer so the Heat will have shooters out spacing the floor, the man of whomever doubles will cut to the basket.

And it comes down to who executes.

Expect Game 4 to be a whole lot closer than Game 3, expect a genuine desperation from the Pacers. If they can slow LeBron in the post and still run Ray Allen and Shane Battier off the three-point line, they can even up the series. If Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh are knocking down midrange jumpers and the Heat are moving the ball and hitting threes, the Pacers can’t stop them.

This is really about defense for the Pacers. Offensively they have actually scored well above their season average in points per possession in this series — they are putting up points on a good Heat defense. It’s just not enough because they haven’t been able to stop Miami.

After Game 3 it’s fair to ask if the Pacers can play at the Heat’s level? But it’s just as fair to ask if the Heat can maintain that level? This is a much grittier, tougher, better Pacers team than the one the Heat vanquished a year ago and you can expect their defense to be more physical tonight, as will their efforts to establish Roy Hibbert and David West on offense.

But again, if Haslem is near perfect and Chris Andersen remains perfect (he’s 13-of-13 in this series) — basically, if the Heat are getting serious contributions from players not named LeBron there is not much the Pacers can do.

Game 4 is now less about strategy and more about execution and intangibles. The Pacers have made big strides from a year ago in those areas.

But will it be enough to even this series and make it a best of three.

  1. lewiscafarella - May 28, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    I’m sorry but the Pacers don’t have a chance. Now they are good, I wouldn’t dare take that away from them. But the Heat are too good. Heat in 5.

    • fanofthegame79 - May 28, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      If the Heat win tonight, then yes….Heat in 5.

    • dolphins4 - May 28, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      Unless the Refs win it for them.

  2. gotampabay52 - May 28, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Go Heat

  3. JHathwell - May 28, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Very well said, Kurt. Miami’s counter punch to how well Indiana defended in the first two games was to stick LeBron on the block and run everything trough him, and to say it was a success is a rather giant understatement. Now, it’s time to see if Indiana has a counter.

  4. deeballer - May 28, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    This has been a very good an intense series other than game 3. The Pacers are a very good young team, but I feel like Miami has figured them out and we’ll see if that’s true tonight.

  5. beachsidejames - May 28, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Its already over the only thing now is when.

  6. mungman69 - May 28, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    I would be SURPRISED if the Pacers win again.

  7. rodge1 - May 28, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Refs have taken over the game.

  8. dolphins4 - May 28, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    I’ve never seen a worse officiated than this game tonight .The NBA sure want Indiana to win this game .They call everything against Miami and nothing against Indiana.

  9. jbeagles23 - May 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Lol Hibbert acts intimidating however he’s a big retard

  10. rodge1 - May 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    I knew the refs would make LeBron pay for his flopping comments.

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