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Key Adjustments Indiana Pacers Must Make to Win Eastern Conference Finals

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Key Adjustments Indiana Pacers Must Make to Win Eastern Conference Finals
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Paul George, Lance Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers have their work cut out for them in Game 2.

The Miami Heat currently lead the Indiana Pacers 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Game 1 was a nip-and-tuck affair that could easily have gone Indiana's way.

As is the nature of a seven-game playoff series, adjustments have to be made. This rings especially true for the Pacers, who are in dire need of a Game 2 win to steal the Heat's home-court advantage.

The urgency for a win cannot be emphasized enough because Indiana has won only two series in NBA franchise history after dropping a Game 1, as per ESPN. 

Play Roy Hibbert in the Endgame

Indiana coach Frank Vogel repeatedly referred to Roy Hibbert as the best rim protector in the game

So where was the best rim protector when the Pacers needed him the most?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN explains why Hibbert was on the bench when LeBron James made his buzzer-beating layup.

The reason Hibbert was on the bench, giving a glassy-eyed stare, was Vogel was worried about Chris Bosh. With the Heat playing small with Bosh acting as center and Shane Battier acting as power forward, Vogel was worried about Bosh getting open for a jumper with the slower Hibbert on him.

While Vogel has a point, the Heat, knowing Hibbert wasn't there to patrol the lane, naturally went to the league's MVP and he promptly took advantage. James going in for an uncontested lay-up at the buzzer beats you 10 times out of 10.

On the other hand, Chris Bosh taking a jumper has a 50 percent chance of dropping (as per his .519 shooting average in the postseason). Take a chance and go with Bosh trying to beat you with a jump shot. 

Put your best rim protector in the endgame. 

2013 MVP LeBron James beats the Pacers at the buzzer in Game 1.

Neutralize the Birdman 

Chris Andersen was the X-factor for the Miami Heat in Game 1. 

The Birdman dropped 16 points on the Pacers on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the floor, coupled with five rebounds and three blocks. He doubled his postseason scoring average, and that's one of the factors that went against the Pacers' favor. 

This also shows Indiana underestimated Andersen's ability as a spark plug in the Miami offense. We all know he can give teams fits defensively, but the Heat playing him as an option on offense should no longer be taken lightly. 

Looking at the video below, Norris Cole beats George Hill off the dribble and is met by Ian Mahinmi as soon as he gets in the paint. Mahinmi commits to Cole, who drops it off to Andersen at the last second for an easy dunk.

Credit must also be given to Shane Battier for drawing David West away from the shaded area in case West decided to help out on defense. Miami also did an excellent job of spacing the floor in this instance. Had Cole decided to kick the ball out to Ray Allen, it would have been an open look for a three-pointer because Lance Stephenson sagged off on Allen. 

The key really is to not allow any of the Heat guards to get that first step to begin with. Andersen thrives on getting involved in the offense from dump downs from drives based on his exceptional ability to move without the ball. 

Chris Andersen with the dunk on the beautiful drop-off from Norris Cole.

Keep David West Away from Foul Trouble

David West practically carried the load for Indiana in the first half of Game 1 with 18 points. 

And then he got in foul trouble, picking up his fourth with 10:18 remaining in the third quarter on a moving screen he set on the Heat's Mario Chalmers. Three of West's four fouls were offensive fouls, with the last one being more of a mental lapse than anything else. 

With West saddled with four personal fouls too early, he wasn't really the same offensively in the second half, scoring just eight points. The Pacers really need him to produce on both ends of the floor, and that possibility will drastically be minimized if he is in foul trouble. 

In this video, David West scores 18 points in the first half of Game 1 against the Heat.

As a parting shot, the adjustments the Indiana Pacers have to make include making Roy Hibbert establish his presence as a rim protector in the endgame, neutralizing Chris Andersen and keeping David West away from foul trouble. 

If the Pacers manage to cover all of these bases, they should once again give the defending champion Heat a run for their money in Game 2 and perhaps earn a legitimate shot at winning the series. 

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