Hill Must Play Big For Pacers To Advance




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – George Hill took over as the starting point guard before last season’s playoffs. Now he might be the Indiana Pacers’ most important player when they try to oust the defending champion Miami Heat and punch their own ticket to the NBA Finals on Monday night.

Game 7 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) should be a doozy in Miami. In this unpredictable Eastern Conference Finals that features LeBron James and his struggling sidekicks Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for the Heat, an emerging superstar in Paul George and a dominant and unnecessarily verbose center in Roy Hibbert, the quiet, 6-foot-2 Hill stands as the ultimate X-factor.

In three Pacers wins, Hill has averaged 17.7 ppg. In three losses, he’s averaged 8.3, including five points in Game 1 and a single point in the Game 5 loss. In do-or-die Game 6, Hill came through with 16 points and six assists as the Pacers opened a big lead, lost it and then took charge again. Hill played all but 42 seconds of the second half, delivering nine points and four assists with just two turnovers. At the other end, the long-armed Hill helped to hold Miami to 37 second-half points on 34.5 percent shooting.

“To tell you the truth, I’m not really worried about George,” Hibbert said following Indiana’s 91-77 win in Game 6. “He had an off-night [in Game 5]. “He’s a true veteran. He plays beyond his years. He learned through coach [Gregg] Popovich in a great system. He bounces back, he takes pride in himself in offense and defense and he plays both ends of the floor. He recognizes that.”

Hill’s also been getting a steady dose of advice throughout the series from former San Antonio teammate, Spurs point guard Tony Parker, on how to beat the Heat.

Even though he wasn’t scoring in Game 5, his edgy defense still helped the Pacers to a 44-40 halftime lead while also knowing Indiana was wasting a valuable opportunity to widen the the gap on the scoreboard. Two Hibbert free throws put the Pacers ahead 50-49 with 7:14 to go in the third. Then Hill picked up consecutive fouls in the span of nine seconds and headed to the bench with four personals.

Immediately Miami took off, ending the quarter on a 21-6 run.

“He’s an underrated — probably the most underrated point‑guard defender in the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “So when he’s out, or not right, that’s where we suffer the most, is on the defensive end.”

In a series where points are increasingly at a premium, the Pacers know what they’re going to get from their formidable frontline of Hibbert and West, who was tremendous in Game 6 despite being ill with a 100-degree-plus fever before tip.

But they can’t always count on Hill being an aggressive playmaker and getting into the paint. What they need in Game 7 is for the erratic stuff from Hill, as well as starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson, to come to an end on the Heat’s home floor where the two have struggled the most. The third-year Stephenson, a bench-warmer in these two teams’ second-round series a year ago and best remembered for the self-chokehold he applied to mock James, is just 3-for-11 from the floor in the last two games for eight points.

In Game 4, he went 9-for-15 for 20 points. In the Game 3 loss, he was 2-for-10.

In Game 5, reserve forward Tyler Hansbrough had three points. Until late in the game he had outscored Hill and Stephenson combined. It’s been feast or famine for the Pacers’ starting backcourt, and it’s hard to see a Finals berth coming against a determined James on his home floor if Hill and Stephenson shrink under pressure.

“Lance is a young player; plays better at home,” Vogel said. “He has to find a way to bring that magic while we’re on the road. George has been pretty consistent throughout the season. … When he’s aggressive with the basketball, trying to live in the paint, making the extra pass, with his ability to make shots, he just gives us a tremendous lift on the offensive end.”

One the Pacers figure unable to live without in Game 7.

29 Comments

  1. blessed says:

    lets go heat, remember this is our house guys, so lets do it.

  2. Erlo says:

    Pacers need to pray that Wade or Bosh continue to have terrible games. If one of them scores 20 … the Heat will win. If not, Pacers all day.

  3. Will says:

    Go Pacers! They better get off to a hot start and keep the defensive intensity up because down the stretch David Stern and the refs will try anything they can to get the pre-crowned, larger market Miami Heat into the finals…..

  4. And1 says:

    DJ Augustin should seize the moment if Hill struggles.

  5. germany says:

    @Tiny – well said, don’t forget though Miami has been here/there before with this type of pressure and adversity, Miami has showed its character, what the team is made out of many times, Indiana not. This is new territory for Indiana, next year they will be better. Your prediction answer: Miami prevails. Miami just has to shoot 50% or better and they win. Miami wins against the Spurs also in 7 (Home Court advantage) The 66-16 was good for something.

    • Loki says:

      If you’re going to use home court advantage and the history of it in finals game 7s as a reason for Miami beating San Antonio I’ll simply say San Antonio will win because history repeats itself. Spurs are 4-0 in the finals, but it’s silly logic of course

  6. los says:

    the pacers can’t keep missing layups and we have to stay outta foul trouble and limit our turnovers to 10 to 12 in this game..(.hopefully dead ball) if we can keep it close the pressure will begin to mount up on the heat and i believe the pacers can pull it out…if they remember they are playing with house money and really have nothing to loose…meaning go for broke and leave everything on the floor!!!!

  7. Joseph_03 says:

    Experts say it’s going to the Heat 100%, I’m no expert but a lot of people even some experts said this series will not go beyond game 6 at the most and a sweep is more likely given how well the heat have played all season and their momentum coming into the series. Fortunately they were wrong, hope the Pacers win this game 7. The fan in me would like to see a series showcasing excellent big men playing the post like in the not so older days.

  8. ehunter says:

    It is sad about our young men, nice career but no respect except for themselves

  9. Gary says:

    Not to mention, SA will wear down Mia with their amazing DEPTH !! the Spurs go 12 deep with guys who can beat you in multiple. ways, the Heat don’t have that luxury , plus they have nobody to stop Parker or Ginobili or even Duncan & Splitter & Diaw will cause mathup prblms too

  10. Gary says:

    Hey Randy!!! FYI THE SPURS ARE MUCH BETTER THAN IND & WILL PICK THE HEAT APART AND CARVE THEIR DEFENSE UP AS WELL AS CONTAIN LEBROOM &!SHUT DOWN THE REST OF THEIR TEAM SPURS IN 5 VS MIA SPURS HAVE WAY TOO MANY WAYS TO BEAT THEM, & AMUCH DEEPER AND FOCUSED BENCH, PLUS SMARTER COACHING POP IS THE MASTER OF CHESS MATCHES IN COACHING SPURS OVER HEAT IN 5

  11. Devinn says:

    I’m expecting a fight or two breaking out & be instigated by either Heat (Andersen) or Pacers (Hansborough) thugs & tons of technical fouls called. Might turn out who benefits more from tech calls will decide the game. Game 7 is definitely win or go home.

  12. Bu says:

    If Pacers’ play 100%, don’t get into foul trouble, & Bosh not hitting his jumper, they’ll beat the Heat even if LBJ go nuts. If Bosh starts hitting his jumpers, & also guys like Hslem starting to hit his open shots, Pacers will hv tough time.

  13. J says:

    trade him

  14. Randy says:

    I do believe this is a 50/50 game seven. If the Heat do win I think they will have an easier time with the Spurs.

    • realist2013 says:

      How do you figure? I’ve yet to see a kryptonite stop their onslaught. You watch too much sports center.

      • tkolla says:

        From what I’m reading and watching on the web (NBA.com etc) since game six, seems as though most people are cheering for Indiana. I really hope Indiana wins. I don’t like Miami. They’re far too arrogant, proud and just pompous. Its unbearable to watch at times.

      • HeatFansDon'tExist says:

        If you’re a Spurs fan why are you acting like a Heat fan? Arrogant moron. I am rooting for the Spurs myself and would very much prefer the Heat to lose game 7. Not becuase they will be a bigger challenge for the Spurs, but because then the refs won’t be a factor in the series. Indiana has clearly outplayed Miami and had it not been for Lebron going in for the lay-up in OT knowing the Pacers wouldn’t play D because if they did it would be an immediate foul for breathing on him the series would already be over.

      • Ball says:

        Thank you @heatfansdontexist

  15. Wade Smock says:

    Hill has the game to out play Chalmers. Remember be aggresive and have FUN. Watch him charge out on D and step in past him for a floater or to the hole for a layin or dime. ROCKET TO THE HOLE. THE RIPPLE EFFECT.

  16. Tiny says:

    It appears Miami will win this series tomorrow night, but what appears to be true may well be false. Trying to predict how well a player will perform under pressure in the final game of this series is very difficult because the performance level of a given player depends on many different factors such as sleep/rest; nutrition; travel fatigue; level of mental/emotional, physical, and skill preparation, and excessive worry about serious personal problems. One or more of these factors present in the life of a player can negatively influence his performance.

    Of course, if I am a Miami fan, I can reason that Miami will win because it is playing at home, because Wade and Bosh will finally play well, and because Anderson, suspended in game six, will give them a lift off the bench. The basis of the prediction is the bias of the predictor, not facts or likelihoods, and therefore the prediction has as much chance of being right as wrong.

  17. Patty says:

    ALL THE PLAYERS ON THE INDIANA PACERS MUST GIVE THERE ALL. YOU CAN BETTHE NBA & THE REFS WILL HELP THE MIAMI HEAT. INDIANA MUST STEP UP MORE TO WIN GAME 7.

    I BELIEVE THE INDIANA PACERS WILL DO EVERYTHING TO WIN GAME 7 AND THEY WILL WIN AND GO ON TO MEET THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS IN THE FINALS.

  18. theholyspectator says:

    yup hill has to step up, but then again all series we havent seen bosh or wade step up, so even if hill does and these two that are supposed to be part of the big 3 play lights out, miami advances…i think those dwade and cb will come out and play very well, maybe not have monster games but get a solid double double, lebron will drop 30-35 and the role players will pitch in, and that along with suffocating defense, if none of these things happen, indy will face spurs and ill wait to see tim duncan and tony partker come on late night with letterman and talk about their championship run, im def not wasting 2 + hours watchin a borin series

    • dhk says:

      CB has been shutdown by Indy, period. Wade is barely making an impact. Don’t see Bosh doing much more due to the size he is up against. Bad match up for him. Wade is certainly capable of doing more. Mind you, the guy has been extremely inconsistant for a few years now.
      Why would you not watch Spurs vs Indy? That would be an epic series. Basketball at its best, unless you think it’s all dunks and oops? If so, you should just go watch Space Jam or Like Mike because it’s clearly not basketball you’re interested in.

    • HeatFansDon'tExist says:

      You’ve only been a Heat fan for three seasons. Don’t let one missed trip to the finals stop you from watching a better series where the refs shouldn’t have a say in the final outcome like they would with any game that included the Baby Bron Bron’s.

  19. W/E says:

    they are gunna need everyone to play at 110% now that Roy Humpert will get suspended in game 7