The Indiana Pacers have been the definition of inconsistent throughout the entire postseason.
After building a 16-point second-half lead against the Washington Wizards, they found themselves trailing 74-73 with 8:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
On the Pacers next possession David West knocked down an 18-footer.
From there Indiana went on a 17-2 run, never trailing again as they eliminated the Wizards with a 93-80 win in game six.
“David West made some big shots and he came up big for them,” said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. “Every time they needed a momentum buster he seemed to make a shot. That’s what players of his caliber do in big time situations.”
With a chance to close out the series in game five the Pacers laid an egg losing by 23 at home.
But Indiana has shown the ability to bounce back improving to 4-0 following a loss this postseason.
Paul George didn’t have his best game offensively, finishing with just 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, but he knew that West would be able to pick up the slack.
“When David West has that look and he’s assertive and demands the ball...I know we’re going to be in good hands”, said George. “Every time. He’s never failed us when he’s given us that look and told us in the huddles, get me the ball. He’s special and he always pulls us through. He’s the most efficient and consistent guy on this team. We’re very fortunate to have him with this group.”
Through the first five games of the series West averaged just 13.4 points, which is right on par with his season average of 14 points.
But sensing his team needed a lift he was more aggressive than usual leading all scorers with 29 points.
“I just told the guys down the stretch, just come to me,” said West whose 26 field goal attempts were a season high. “We couldn’t lose this game. I just tried to keep guys confident and encouraged. Ultimately I wanted it to be on my shoulders. If we lost this game I wanted it to be on me. Ultimately we were able to pull through. We were able to beat a tough team in a great atmosphere to play basketball. “
After all the Pacers have gone through the last two months of the season and first two rounds of the playoffs, they’ve gotten what they wanted all along; A rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
“I fell like those ups and downs made us strong,” said Lance Stephenson who scored 17 points and dished out 8 assists in game 6. “We needed that so we could stay humble and stay level. I think we’re good, we just have to bring it next series and show was Pacers basketball is all about.”