The Indiana Pacers avoided falling into an undesirable two games to nothing hole by defeating the Orlando Magic 93-78 at home Monday night. With the series now tied at one game apiece, the teams will travel to Orlando for Games 3 and 4.
Quick Recap: Orlando led by two at the half, but Indiana used a 30-13 third quarter to take control of the game. The Magic were never able to cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter as Indiana cruised to victory.
What it means for Orlando: Taking a two game lead back home would have been huge for the Magic, who are still seen as underdogs in this series despite winning Game 1. Still, going back home with a one-one split is better than most people expected from this team.
If we learned anything from these first two games about the Magic, it’s that they will need Jameer Nelson to play at his best for Orlando to have a chance in this series. He played well in Game 1, but struggled in Game 2 (4-for-13 from the field, just three assists). The Magic are at their best when Nelson is playing well.
Glen Davis now has 13 offensive rebounds in the first two games. His ability to keep possessions alive and create opportunities for second chance points can keep the Magic in this series.
Ryan Anderson needs to step up. He averaged over 16 points per game this season, but only has 16 points in the first two games combined. He’s not shooting as much as he did in the regular season, but the Magic need him to.
What it means for Indiana: This was a must win game for the Pacers, and they responded so.
As I pointed out in my Game 2 preview, Indiana was reluctant to go to David West in the second half of Game 1 despite his first half success. Well, West struggled with his shot in Game 2 (5-for-14 from the field), but took advantage of Orlando’s weak interior defense and was able to get to the line consistently. West finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and there is no reason that the Pacers should stop going to him in this series.
Danny Granger’s struggles are a bit of a concern. He only shot 7-for-21 from the field (1-for-10 from three), and as the assumed best player on the team, Indiana will need more from him going forward.
It has to be encouraging to see a good shooting night from Paul George (7-for-10 from the field) after he struggled with his shot in Game 1. Being only 21 years-old and playing in a playoff atmosphere might have rattled him Saturday, but the fact that he was able to rebound nicely in Game 2 is a good sign for Indiana.
The Pacers did a good job taking care of the basketball in Game 2 (only 11 turnovers). This is key because it prevents Orlando from hitting the open court and allows for Indiana’s big men to set up defensively.
Game 3 will be played Wednesday night in Orlando and could serve as the pivotal game in the series. Check back tomorrow for the preview.