Indiana was built to have advantages against the Miami Heat but you wouldn’t have known it watching Game 3.
In the second half of Game 3 Indiana went away from getting the ball to David West either at the elbow or on the block, plus they went completely away from posting up Roy Hibbert at all. Instead, the Pacers went pick-and-roll heavy with the erratic Lance Stephenson, who was too often forced to the sideline and away from the paint. Indiana stopped executing when the Heat cranked up the defensive pressure. Plus, the defense that is the Pacers hallmark went away.
Bottom line, the Pacers were built to stay big when the Heat go small and beat them, in Game 3 the Heat went small and won.
Indiana has to flip that script in Game 4, or this series is going to be short.
For Miami, the key is defense — they played their best defensive game of the playoffs in the last 30 minutes of Game 3. Their trapping, pressure, turnover-forcing defense was back and they had the easy transition buckets to show for it.
But the Heat haven’t brought that consistently in the playoffs. They need to start because both teams out of the West are playing at a higher level than the Heat have been up until those 30 minutes. Miami needs to sustain that level of play.
They also need the healthy, attacking Dwyane Wade — he is averaging 24.3 points on 62 percent shooting this series. That Wade with LeBron James makes the Heat difficult to stop, no matter what Chris Bosh is doing (which has not been much).
Expect a Pacers team playing with a sense of desperation — they need to win, their season is on the line.
The question is can they execute at the level they need to, can they stick with the game plan?