After another epic between the Grizzlies and Clippers on Monday, every remaining first-round series stands at 3-1. And in a weird scheduling quirk, four teams have a chance to close out 4-1 victories tonight, a scenario that would leave us with one fait accompli in Miami and one remaining hope for real on-court drama in Memphis. Here’s one key factor to watch in each of the four games:
PACERS VS. MAGIC
The power forward matchup: We knew going in that Orlando lacked the size to match up with the behemoth Roy Hibbert, but David West’s old-man game has been just as big a problem — and perhaps a bigger one — for Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark and (in fewer chances) Glen Davis. Indiana has outscored the Magic by 55 points in the 158 minutes that West has logged in this series, while the Magic have won the remaining 39 minutes — with West sitting — by a mammoth 19-point margin.
This all peaked in the third quarter of Game 4, when the Pacers built a huge behind West doing a little bit of everything — slipping screens to create penetration, drawing double-teams in the post, ducking in for post-up chances behind Hibbert pick-and-rolls and firing solid passes to open shooters. He overpowered Anderson and Clark, and his play, coupled with Anderson’s disappearance, has been perhaps the largest swing factor in this series. It got so bad that Stan Van Gundy went small in the second half of the fourth quarter, with Hedo Turkoglu at power forward, a move that seemed to unnerve the Pacers for a short stretch.
But in the long run, or what’s left of it, the Magic need Anderson to make this matchup something close to a wash. He’s just 10-of-31 from the floor so far, and the secondary skills he brings — offensive rebounds, two-point shots, the occasional free throws — have vanished in this series. Orlando has a huge speed advantage at the big-man positions, and it can (and has) hurt Indiana by running West in multiple pick-and-rolls and targeting Hibbert as the last man in quick-hitting, staggered screen plays, knowing Hibbert will sag back and concede a jump shot. Anderson needs to make some of those jump shots, and the Magic need to find a way to limit West on the other end without compromising themselves fatally elsewhere. That’s a huge challenge given the roster limitations here, but Van Gundy, working what might be his last game in Orlando on Tuesday, has coached his tail off in this series. Does he have some tricks left? Read More…