The Indiana Pacers defeated the Orlando Magic 105-87 in Game 5 Tuesday night, advancing to the second round with 4-1 series victory.
Quick Recap: Trailing by two after the third quarter, the Pacers used a 36-16 fourth quarter to pull away from the Magic and take the first round series. Danny Granger led the way for Indiana with 25 points, but Darren Collison was the difference, netting 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting from the field. With the win, the Pacers advance to the second round where they will face either the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks.
Keys for Indiana in the second round
Early leads: In almost every game of the series against the Magic, the Pacers jumped off to a double-digit first quarter lead. That can make a big difference, especially for a team that is more than likely going to be the underdog in the second round. If Indiana continues to jump out to early leads, it will put pressure on their opponents.
Danny Granger: In three out of the five games of this series, Granger shot 40% or worse from the field, and attempted 20 shots or more in all but one game. The Pacers will need better shooting performances from Granger if they have a chance of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.
Assists: More than likely, the Pacers will see the Heat in round two. Indiana ranked second to last in assists per game this past season, and going up against great perimeter defenders in Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Shane Battier will make it difficult for the one-on-one (Paul George, Granger) players to score. That means Indiana will need to get more drive and kicks from Collison and George Hill.
Controlling the fast break: Indiana did a great job of this against Orlando, holding the Magic to just 13 fast break points the entire series (of course, some of that is due to Orlando’s inability to get into the open court). Whether it’s the Heat or the Knicks in the second round, the Pacers will want keep the pace slow and their opponent out of the open court.
David West: West’s production improved drastically in the postseason and was one of the main reasons that Indiana was able to dispose of the Magic so easily. West averaged 12 points and seven rebounds per game in the regular season, but improved to 16 and 10 in this series. If West’s solid production holds up, the Pacers can be very good.
Bench play: The Pacers have a superior bench to both the Heat and the Knicks, so no matter the second round matchup, the Pacers should have that advantage. Unfortunately, the bench didn’t look great in the Orlando series, but it did play much better in Games 4 and 5. The performance of the bench could make or break Indiana’s season.