I stated in my Game 3 preview that despite putting up 17 points in Game 1 and and 18 points in Game 2, Danny Granger’s play had to be worrisome to Pacer fans.
Well, worry no more Indiana.
Granger found his stroke in Game 3, leading the way for the Pacers with 26 points on 9-for-16 shooting from the field (including five three pointers). Indiana easily took Game 3 with a 97-74 victory over the Orlando Magic. The win gives Indiana a 2-1 series advantage.
Quick recap: Granger came out hot early, scoring eight of the Pacers first 18 points, after shooting just 14-for-41 from the field in the first two games. Behind Granger, Indiana took a 23-14 first quarter lead and never looked back. The Magic cut the lead to three in the second quarter, but were never able to get any closer. The Pacers used a 32-17 third quarter to pull away for good.
What it means for Orlando: This is exactly what could not happen for Orlando. The Magic have been blown out in back-to-back games and that Game 1 win now seems like a distant memory. Game 4 is an absolute must-win.
Despite Orlando’s struggles, the play of Glen Davis can not be ignored. He’s playing out of position and has to battle against a great defensive center in Roy Hibbert on every play, and still managed to score 22 points on 10-for-18 shooting. If only some of his teammates could score.
The other player covered in my Game 3 preview, Ryan Anderson, struggled yet again. In Game 3 he only attempted six shots and finished with seven points. For Orlando to get back into this series, they are going to need a big game from Anderson.
Seven. That’s how many fast break points Orlando has in this series. They aren’t the most athletic team in the league, but they need to push the pace and score before Indiana’s big men can set up defensively. This can’t be stressed enough.
What it means for Indiana: And just like that, the Pacers reclaimed home-court advantage.
Outside of Granger, the Pacers also received a very efficient night from Hibbert, who scored 18 points on 8-10 shooting from the field, while also pulling down 10 rebounds. It’s good to see Hibbert finally take advantage of these smaller Orlando defenders.
Where is the bench? This was supposed to be a strength for this team but the bench struggled again tonight, shooting just 6-17 from the field. Indiana can survive with those type of numbers against this Orlando team, but in a round two matchup likely against the Miami Heat? Good luck.
It seems Indiana might have sucked the life out of Orlando. A win in Game 4 will essentially clinch the series. It will be interesting to see how this young team comes out to start the game. Given the wave of momentum they are now riding, my guess is that they will come out strong.