Pacers focus remains defending break over crashing glass

Pacers focus remains defending break over crashing glass
May 15, 2014, 7:00 pm
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(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

So, Frank Vogel, about the Wizards 62-23 rebounding advantage in Game 5’s win…

“There’s a lot of factors going into that number,” the Pacers coach said at Thursday’s shootaround.

The three most obvious factors are as follows:

1)      Rather than have three or more players crash the offensive glass, Indiana sent multiple players into the backcourt, getting a head start defensively against Washington’s fast break.

2)      The Wizards played desperate.

3)      The Pacers did not.

We’ll find out whether numbers two and three change in Game 6, which tips at 8 p.m. Thursday night from the Verizon Center. Facing elimination with another loss, the Wizards remain in must-win mode trailing 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.

As for factor No. 1, Vogel said the plan remains the same.

[MORE: John Wall locked in for Game 6]

“If we take care of the defensive glass we’ll be OK. We certainly have to honor their running game so we’re not going to send three crashers to the glass,” Vogel said “We’re not probably going to get 18 offensive rebounds like they did. We got to make sure we get back in transition defense. We just got to do a better job of getting back.”

Led by John Wall, the Wizards had 18 fast-break points in Game 5 after not having any in the second half of Game 4’s loss in which Washington blew a 19-point, second-half lead. Marcin Gortat outrebounded 16-15 through three quarters.

Indiana didn’t help itself offensively, shooting 39 percent from the field.

“We just didn’t rebound,” Pacers forward Paul George said. “We gave [the Wizards] second shots, the opportunity for second shots. We didn’t keep them out of transition. Offensively we didn’t just bring any effort to move, move the ball, move ourselves and play with energy on the offensive end. [If we do that] we’re going to struggle every time against a team like this.”

Indiana finished the regular season third in rebound differential. Wizards coach Randy Wittman called the 62-23 discrepancy a “fluke." He also joked about different a suggestion as to how the Wizards could solve their home woes against the gold-clad Pacers.

“I tried to get gold shirts put on the seats out there," Wittman said, nodding in the direction of the main court inside the Verizon Center, "but I see they didn’t listen to me.”

Wall expects a better effort from the Pacers.

“They’re going to rebound the ball definitely better today, hitting the offensive glass and being in the right position,” Wall said. “Usually they’re a great offensive rebounding team, but they’re doing a great job of taking their guys and getting them back into transition to stop our fast break game.

“They’re going to make their adjustments just like every team does each game. Every game is different. You just have to come with the same focus and intensity.”