Wizards vs. Pacers, NBA Playoffs 2014 Game 2 preview: What adjustments will Indiana make

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Thoughts on three possible changes the Pacers could make to tie the series.

I haven't had a chance to study Game 1 as rigorously as I looked at many other Wizards playoff games for several reasons, but here are a couple thoughts on possible adjustments the Pacers will make in Game 2.

More Roy Hibbert or less? One would assume that Roy Hibbert would get a quicker hook should the Pacers continue to struggle with him in the lineup. Indiana could easily play smaller more often, whether it's using more Luis Scola in combination with David West or dusting off Chris Copeland. At the same time, Hibbert did only play 17 minutes. Unless the Pacers completely bench him, I'm not sure there's any real way to give him a quicker hook.

From the sounds of it, Frank Vogel may be going the other way. From Indy Cornrows' transcription of Vogel's post-practice comments:

"I have to get (Hibbert) some looks to get him going some," Vogel said. "Everyone has to understand, he wasn't 0 for 11 last night, he was 0 for 2. He's the fifth option in our starting five offense."

[...]

"I have to call his number some times, which I called it zero times (in Game 1)," Vogel said.

I'm surprised Vogel keeps talking about getting Hibbert shots. Three months of evidence suggests Hibbert is not much of an offensive presence, especially when their guards struggle to get him the ball. If the Pacers want to pound the ball inside, the Wizards seem well-equipped to stop it. But perhaps Vogel thinks Hibbert will be more engaged defensively if he is involved offensively. We'll see.

If Hibbert again struggles, I'd expect Vogel to use Ian Mahinmi more before going small. Mahinmi is much more mobile and offers similar rim protection, which is important to contain John Wall. Too many minutes in key spots (read: when Nene and Marcin Gortat are both on the court) will expose Scola and Copeland.

Staying on shooters: There's a great piece on Pacers blog Eight Points, Nine Seconds that shows how Paul George's ball-roaming gave Trevor Ariza too many open looks from three. This was my favorite example:


Thing is, though, George has been doing that all season. The Pacers have allowed George and Lance Stephenson more leeway this year to help aggressively onto the nail. Generally, it's worked out well, but it didn't in Game 1. The Wizards were smart at occupying Chicago's help defenders in Round 1 and were smart again at occupying George in Round 2.

This is a big reason why I expect George to eventually switch onto Wall full time. Wall's less of a spot-up or cutting threat than Ariza, so George's gambling tendencies will be more difficult to exploit. Will that adjustment happen in Game 2?

Defending David West: The Pacers' power forward had a poor shooting night, but he did have some open mid-range looks that he just didn't knock down. Part of that was because the Wizards' bigs were aggressive containing any sort of dribble penetration from the guards. The last thing they wanted was for Stephenson and George to get to the rim. (This also applies to Scola, who did actually hit several of those jumpers).

If the Wizards are smart, they'll look at the tape again and try to take some of those looks away ... or at least make them more difficult. That could involve less aggressive defense on guards. That could involve stunting from the opposite side. That could involve maintaining the same general coverage, but doing it better. (Drew Gooden, for all his help on the offensive glass, was often late to rotate back to West and Scola). Either way, that's an area of improvement for the Wizards.

***

It says a lot that the Wizards won Game 1 so decisively while not playing their best. I'm optimistic about tonight. Are you?

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