You didn't think it would be that easy, did you? The Magic's upset bid took an expected turn as the Pacers evened the series up with a win in Game Two. What was unexpected was how Indiana ramped up its intensity in the third quarter and took the game right at Orlando. To be sure, the Magic's margin for error was too small to withstand that 30-13 third quarter. The Magic know what they have to do for Game Three. Let's see if we can learn anything with a second look at Game Two.
--The first play of the game showed a change from the Pacers. They tried to run a lot more high/low action with David West and Roy Hibbert. They tried to get the ball to Hibbert free on a cross screen set by West. West then went up to the free throw line. The hope is that this will get Hibbert better post position by making Davis go through a screen or change the angle of attack so Davis cannot push Hibbert off his spot. Either way, West is very capable of scoring when he has the ball at the free throw line. Anderson has to do a better job staying in front of West in those one-on-one situations.
--Magic have a lot of issues in the post, but figuring out how to defend David West is going to be really key. He is doing a lot of things really well. And he can do a lot. He is a great passer, great jump shooter and an unselfish scorer. So far, West has won the matchup between him and Ryan Anderson. And his most effective area of attack is the free throw line area, where the Magic won't double him. Orlando has to mix up some of its coverages against him and find a way to keep him on the perimeter and away from the basket. Honestly, the best way to defend him might be to have Ryan Anderson have a big game and hit a bunch of 3-pointers.
--Magic really had issues defending the fast break all night. George Hill is really effective on the break. This is really where he uses his size advantage over Jameer Nelson. Really the only place he does so.
--Orlando's best looks at 3-pointers consistently come after offensive rebounds. Magic will not change their identity, but with the team struggling to shoot, maybe the Magic should be a little more judicious with their shooting.
--It took a little longer for the Magic to go at Roy Hibbert in this game. There was a lot less action in the paint. When the Magic began cutting into that early lead, it came when Glen Davis and Jameer Nelson were getting in the paint and challenging Hibbert. Of course, the run did not really start until Hibbert and West went out of the game at the final timeout of the first quarter.
--The Pacers defense against the pick and roll was most effective when they blitzed the ball handler and prevented him from turning the corner. Magic bigs have to make sure they stay available. Or, better, if the play is cut off, the ball handler can find another player on the perimeter who can quickly swing the ball to the screener cutting down the lane or establishing post position.
--Magic have to prepare themselves better for traps on the pick and roll. J.J. Redick made a good find for Earl Clark's dunk early in the second quarter. But, he really had no idea where to go. Stan Van Gundy has to find a way to give these trapped ball handlers an outlet or secondary option.
--The Magic were ready to work on the offensive glass against the second unit in the second quarter. A lot of it though you could say came because of the Magic's ability to get into the paint at this stage of the game. J.J. Redick and Chris Duhon were able to get into the paint and draw defenders to them. This opened up room for Earl Clark and Ryan Anderson to come in relatively uncontested for offensive rebounds.
--Orlando is perfectly content letting Indiana shoot as many 3-pointers as Indiana wants. I do not think the Magic are worried about outside shots so long as the Magic contest the shooters.
--In the second quarter, Glen Davis began doing a good job using his body and the rim to protect his shot from Roy Hibbert's long reach.
--This game went very much to whoever was playing with the most energy. When Orlando was playing hard and outhustling Indiana, Orlando was in control. When the Pacers were doing that, they were in control. If only it were this simple...
--The Pacers guards are really good at getting out on the break. Paul George, George Hill and Leandro Barbosa have been pretty ineffective in the half court. Magic have to avoid turnovers and prevent fast break opportunities.
--Glen Davis is giving so much effort.
--After the first half when I watched the game live, I really felt for the first time that the Magic could win this series. They were competing hard and getting to loose balls. The offense was not perfect, but it was deadly at times. After watching it again, the picture is not so rosy. Really the difference remains the defense. But the offense benefited from a lot of good bounces for offensive rebounds and Glen Davis' work inside. Aside from Davis and Nelson, no one was getting anywhere near the basket. And Nelson was not doing a whole lot. The way the Magic were freeing up jump shooters was through offensive rebounding. That, as was proved in the second half, is not sustainable.
--Hibbert's best post position in this series has come on offensive rebounds. Glen Davis has done a great job on Roy Hibbert.
--Jameer Nelson is still struggling to figure out when he is supposed to score and when he is supposed to distribute. He has become a better distributor in the last month or so, but the Magic need him to take a little bit more control offensively and force some action. Orlando is not getting the dribble penetration it wants from Hedo Turkoglu, and so that puts a lot of emphasis on Nelson.
--Jason Richardson's only two points in the game came on a beauty of a curl cut. The Magic tried running the same play the next possession and Roy Hibbert did a good job forcing him to flare out instead of curl. The play ended up with a 2/5 pick and roll where Richardson had Glen Davis open for a jumper along the baseline. But Richardson's pass was beyond Davis' reach.
--The Magic's offense actually started the third quarter pretty well offensively. They were getting good looks and generally making shots. The big issue was the amount of turnovers. Orlando committed three pretty quickly and at key points where momentum was beginning to turn. The Pacers will have stretches where they make shots and get some offensive rebounds, but the Magic cannot compound problems in these stretches by turning the ball over -- which leads to fast break opportunities.
--The Pacers were much more aggressive going after offensive boards in the third quarter. Obviously this was a big difference in the game. Orlando has to stick to fundamentals and make sure each player boxes out.
--The bigger concern and the way the Pacers got so many free points in the third quarter, were all the fouls. David West was especially adept at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. It goes without saying, the Magic have to avoid silly fouls and quit bailing out West and others when they get stuck offensively.
--Big offensive rebound by Danny Granger in the middle of the third quarter that led to the big George Hill 3-pointer that gave Indiana a nine-point lead. He just simply beat Ryan Anderson to the spot and got the rebound. Anderson did an awful job boxing out and giving up a rebound off a missed free throw is simply unacceptable. This play really was emblematic of the difference between the second and third quarters.
--Pacers had a much more concerted effort to get to the defensive glass. That was a big change in this game.
--Hedo Turkoglu had, by my count, two drives to the rim through the third quarter. Turkoglu just does not look like he wants the ball in his hands. Is that because he is not comfortable with the mask? Is this just the player he is now? Only Turkoglu knows those answers. The Magic need a little bit more from him though.
--Orlando needs to create some secondary option off pick and rolls. When the Pacers show hard and prevent the ball handler from turning the corner, these guys have nowhere to go with the ball. It just wastes time and leads to a worse shot.
--This is all I am going to say about the officiating. They have made some good calls and have been relatively consistent with how the game is being called. But they have missed some pretty blatant calls too.
--Magic got a lot of good work out of J.J. Redick. Might have to run more plays for him. Or at least use the principles -- curls, multiple pick and rolls -- to get other players open. Redick is just so good at reading screens and has no fear when he tries driving into the paint.
--Davis had some good looks at jumpers in the second half. You could tell he just didn't have the legs to make them late. He is giving everything he has got. Orlando needs to give him more support and get him some rest.
--In both the third and the foruth quarter, the Pacers got into the penalty fairly early. The fouling was as much an issue as anything else. So is this increased aggression from the Pacers? Is this the Magic struggling with fatigue? Certainly seems like a mix of those.
--Pacers were a lot more active defensively. They tipped a lot of passes and finally used their length to bother the Magic and disrupt their offense.
--The fourth quarter really was a draw -- it did end that way 21-21. The lapses defensively in the third quarter and the lazy defense with the fouling, combined with turnovers and missed shots, really proved to be the difference. The Magic just cannot let up for any stretch of these games if they want to win this series.
--The five shooter lineup with Ryan Anderson at center had limited success offensively. The Pacers did not know quite how to attack it. Don't know if we will see it again.
--Davis popped a lot more on pick and rolls rather than rolling to the basket. Some of that might have been the ball handler's inability to turn the corner and get in a position to pass to the roll man. The Magic should think about slipping some of these screens on the pick and roll if the Pacers are going to try and double the ball handler as he comes across the screen.