It was a game that maybe only a Purdue fan could love. Luckily for me and most people I know, that happens to be true.
A thing of beauty? The national media didn’t seem to think so. But, I would argue it’s all a matter of perspective. Yeah, the Pacers missed a lot of open shots and took some transition jumpers they just didn’t need. But, in general, they played through the post (and Roy Hibbert in particular) like they should, which was great to see. They played the Knick defense perfectly, either bullying them with size or letting the post guys suck the defense in before kicking out to open shooters. That, I thought, was a thing of beauty. Again, the Pacers could have hit a few more of those shots, but the looks were solid. No problem with that. And the Pacers defense? Also a thing of beauty. Virtually no transition game for New York, no easy looks. Every jump shot was contested. They were playing defense smothering enough to let Carmelo Anthony, the most notorious ballhog of this generation,* only take 16 shots. Sixteen! The dude averaged almost 23 shots a game this year. In the last two games against the Pacers, Melo hoisted up 28 and 26 shots. You have to like what you saw with that.
*He’s easily on the same level as Allen Iverson used to be. And, of course, they were teammates once upon a time, if you forgot.
So, yeah, I was perfectly happy with game three. If the Pacers play like that, they’ll take this series in five games. The problem is, I don’t know if they can keep it up. The Pacers have shown a couple stretches this year of being able to keep up that intensity and that kind of focus. But, unfortunately, they’ve shown more instances of relaxing when they think they’ve reached the top of the hill. Based on that, I’m a little afraid of what game four will bring.
The saving grace? It is at home, and the Pacers have been beyond excellent at home all year and have yet to play a particularly close game at home in the playoffs. Based on that, I think the Pacers will pull this next game out. I would like to think they learned a little something about keeping the pressure on in the playoffs after last year. And I don’t think the crowd will allow them to have a let down at home. And, hopefully, getting up 3-1 will break the Knicks mentally, who I don’t necessarily think are all that mentally tough and they can await the Heat. If the schedule had broken a little differently and this game was against a desperate Knicks team* in Madison Square Garden, well, I’d be looking at what happened in Game 2. That’s what makes game four so important. Going back to New York tied 2-2 is no good.
*And they will be desperate, make no mistake.
I don’t have much more to add today, and I might not get anything posted tomorrow thanks to a dental appointment. But, I did want to congratulate my wife on passing her PHR exam today. It’s got a 50% fail rate, and it’s certainly added a lot of stress around the Parrish household. It was all worth it in the end, though, because she is now a certified Professional in Human Resources.