Losers make excuses, winners make adjustments. That’s an actual saying, and clearly Paul George, contradicting himself all throughout the press conference coming after the Indiana Pacers lost to the Miami Heat in game 4 of the Eastern conference, hasn’t heard of it. I’m not sure LeBron James has either, but his coach probably has, and it was quite clear he wasn’t impressed with another player from the inferior team (so far) trying to engage in some sort of trash talk.
George looked at the stat sheet and claimed the Pacers outplayed the Miami Heat, losing only because of the Heat getting more free throws. Yes, the Heat went to the line 17 more times in the win. but are still behind in the overall count for the series. NBA officials are far from perfect and sometimes far from good, but there wasn’t anything too clear about taking any sides in the Pacers most recent loss. They’ve also been enjoying calls going their way when playing at home.
Lance Stephenson talked a lot before the game and ended up putting up a dud, going scoreless for almost three entire quarters and looking a bit more humbled and toned down during the game, maybe realizing that putting himself in the spotlight when he’s not that good of a player isn’t a good idea. Paul George spoke after the game about Stephenson not owning up to his words, and then took a shot at the Heat himself, maybe trying to show some leadership skills that he thinks his team needs right now.
Another player who had something to say was Roy Hibbert, who finished the game with 0 points on 0-for-4 from the field. He was very dominant in this series last year, and started out well in 2014 as well. However, he is averaging only 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds so far in this series and is averaging nine field goal attempts per game. He looked frustrated, or sleepy, you decide, on the bench during the loss, and made hidden jabs at his head coach for not playing more towards him.
The Miami Heat keep finding new things that work for them instead of doing the same thing over and over again. The Pacers do have an advantage in the paint, but it never lasts an entire game, and the Heat have ways of countering that. Erik Spoelstra choosing to go with Rashard Lewis has changed this series even if the veteran hasn’t scored a single point, producing a very awkward long range shot that barely touches the rim when he misses. His defense on David West when the game is still in the part where it’s being decided has been crucial and excellent.
Frank Vogel has tight knit group playing for him, no matter what they say through the media. They’ve been through quite a lot over the last two or three years and have never shown signs or breaking apart, even if some games look like something of a breaking point. The problem has been their lack of flexibility offensively, which comes from most of them being very limited when it comes to passing and basketball IQ. Their defense, Paul George’s athleticism, Roy Hibbert’s size and David West being the glue and most solid player of this group has countered that, but the Heat have found a way to expose it.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were hilarious in their reaction when asked about George’s data conclusions. These attempts from guys like Stephenson and now George are bouncing off them like bullets off of Superman, and excuse me for exaggerating. The Indiana Pacers aren’t going to come back into this series trying to talk their way out of their situation against a team and a group of players who have been under more scrutiny and pressure than anyone else over the last three years. It’ll have to be through basketball, something that right now they’re inferior at doing.