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Playoff Assist: The keys to victory for Game 5 of Pacers-Heat

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

1. David West is the steadying force for the Indiana Pacers' offense

If Paul George isn't able to be the star of this team, David West ends up being the only consistent attacker they have. Roy Hibbert was virtually a no-show on the offensive end. Lance Stephenson didn't contribute on offense until late in a game that was already decided. George Hill isn't intiating much of the offense when he has the ball. The only player the Pacers seem to have who can provide a consistent attack is West.

He was 9-of-18 from the floor for 20 points to go with 12 rebounds and four assists. Rashard Lewis has played admirable defense against him, especially in Game 4, but there's only so much you can do against a tank like this. If the Pacers want to survive Game 5 and try to even things up in Game 6, they have to go to West early and often to punish the Miami defense.

2. Chris Bosh stretching the floor takes away the Pacers' game plan

Chris Bosh had a hot start for the Miami Heat by scoring 10 of their first 14 points, including two 3-pointers that made the Pacers' defense very uncomfortable. With the Heat playing five perimeter players right away, it forced the big Indiana defenders to play away from the rim. When that happens, the Heat can stretch out the defense and open up good drives to the basket on late action in the position. It allows them to keep the Pacers' defense moving side-to-side, which eventually causes breakdowns in rotations.

Bosh's 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 3-of-5 from downtown set the tone early and really gave LeBron James the room to dominate drives to the basket. The Heat big man pulls the Pacers' bigs away from the basket and they don't really have a counter for cutting things off for the Heat. If he continues to shoot like this, the Pacers have no shot of winning the series. They may not have a real shot anyway.

3. LeBron James is not to be challenged

Lance Stephenson wanted to get inside LeBron's head and it turns out he found himself in some kind of torture chamber. By challenging LeBron, he found a more aggressive attacker who didn't wait for the game to come to him but decided to make the game do what he wants. That was a bad idea by Stephenson and a gamble that may have awoken a monster. James unleashed some lethal dunks on the Pacers' defense and reminded us of the destructive force the Heat star can be on the floor.

You probably want to coax James into being a more cerebral attacker who feels the game out, rather than being the beast that wants to destroy everything in his path.

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