Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
If we have learned anything from the playoffs thus far, it is that the healthier teams tend to prevail. That was the case again last night, as the Heat struggled on the interior without Chris Bosh and the Clippers couldn’t compete for 48 minutes with a banged up Chris Paul.
Pacers @ Heat – Patient Pacers humble Heat, steal home court advantage with 78-75 victory
MVP: David West
West led a Pacer attack that was focused on exploiting the weak front line of the Miami Heat. He was the most consistent force on the Pacers, as he led the team in scoring (16 points) and minutes played (41). He was a large part of Indiana’s success on the glass, as he recorded 20% of their total rebounds. The +10 rebounding margin allowed the Pacers to slow the game down, and make it a low scoring affair, giving them a chance. If games are played around 190+ total points, the Pacers are in trouble, but if they can keep the total score in the 160 neighborhood, their chances of winning increase significantly. Another odd trend from this contest was the Pacers success in transition and the Heat’s lack there of. Indiana held Miami to 6 points on 6 shots on the break, despite turning the ball over 17 times. West didn’t increase that number at all, as he was the lone Pacer to play more than 5 minutes without committing a turnover. The high turnover number as a team is concerning for Pacer fans, but West’s ability to hold onto the rock is a positive, as the Heat rely on trapping the opposing bigs in order to get odd man breaks going the other way.
Clippers @ Spurs – Second half surge leads San Antonio to impressive 108-92 win
MVP: Tim Duncan
It took the Spurs a little bit of time to find their momentum after the long lay off, but they were able to find a rhythm and dominate the Clippers. San Antonio used their muscle to outscore LA by 12 in the paint and 11 on second chances, with old reliable leading the way. Duncan filled the stat sheet by shooting 60% from the field, scoring a game high 26 points, notching 10 rebounds, recording 2 steals, and swatting 2 shots. He scored 20 points and tallied 9 rebounds after a slow first quarter, as the Spurs won the final three quarters 79-63. Despite the MVP type season from Tony Parker, Duncan is the player Gregg Popovich is most comfortable with, and the more he is involved, the better. He took 20+ field goal attempts for only the second time this season, and I would look for that to continue as the experience of San Antonio looks to handle the youth of the Los Angeles.