I was very concerned about how the Indiana Pacers were going to respond back home after the way they ended game 2 in New York, where they were blown out 105-79 following an insane 30-2 run.
Well, the guy many thought was not mentally tough enough to guide the Pacers to a series win turned out to be the biggest reason why the Pacers dominated the Knicks in game 3. Roy Hibbert had the best game of his postseason career with 24 points (9-18 shooting), 12 rebounds (8 offensive) to power the Pacers to a 82-71 victory and a 2-1 series lead.
The Pacers were great at closing out on the Knicks shooters, forcing the team that made the most 3-pointers in NBA history during the regular season to just take 11 and make just 3. On the other hand, the Pacers threw up 33 shots from behind the arc themselves, connecting on only 10, but it was enough to get them the win because they outrebounded the Knicks 53-40, including a 18-10 edge on the offensive boards.
Hibbert was the heart and soul of the team tonight, but the rest of the guys stepped up too. George Hill connected on 5 three-pointers to finish with 17; Paul George struggled with his shot but contributed in other ways, adding 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals to his 14 points. David West continued to be a rock with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson was huge with 8 big points and being a sparkplug for the team.
The Knicks will no doubt regroup and be ready for game 4, which is going to be the biggest game of the Pacers' season. If the Pacers can hold home court and be up 3-1, they will have 3 chances to close out the series, including once in Indiana. If they lose, home court goes back to the Knicks and they will have to win 2 more road games to advance to the next round and a likely date with the defending champions Miami Heat.