Make Roy Hibbert run the floor defensively. Miles Plumlee must run. Get the board and get on the break. Hibbert will kill him in the half-court if the pace is slow. If Hibbert is forced to get back to guard Plumlee on the break, he’s out of position and prone to foul.
It will be tough for the Suns to push tempo on the back end of four-games-in-five-nights, but it’s the only way to mitigate Indiana’s size advantage.
2) HIT THREES
It’s impossible to expect the Suns to make the shots they hit at home against Indiana. The Pacers have the best three point defense in the league and it won’t allow the Suns to get off like they did in Phoenix. However, hitting 40 percent of threes will be a key stat for the Suns. Goran Dragic can hurt Indiana with penetration, which will force Hibbert to rotate — and possibly foul — while leaving Plumlee open for the dish. If the threes aren’t going, there won’t be room for Dragic to penetrate because Indiana will sag off the shooters.
3) CUT OUT THE TURNOVERS
Although the Suns have won three straight road games, the turnover numbers are atrocious. Everyone’s heard the famous John Wooden quote, “Be quick, don’t hurry,” but it’s so true for the Suns. They must run, but they also need to dramatically cut down on turnovers. The Suns simply aren’t good enough to beat Indiana if they’re giving up free possessions by turning it over.
4) GET BUTT PRODUCTION
OK, I just made up a dumb term but Indiana’s starters are simply better than the Suns’ starters. However, Phoenix wins the battle of the bench. Anyone who is sitting on the bench for Phoenix must have an impact. Markieff Morris needs to dominate Luis Scola and come away with a double-double. Marcus Morris can get some open looks against the Pacers’ bench. Alex Len will be a little bit of a wild card. I couldn’t care less if Len gets into foul trouble. The more aggressive he is, the better for Phoenix.
The Suns will have to climb impossible odds to win this game. Indiana’s a better team, at home and coming off of a long road trip. They’ll be ready to play anyone, let alone the team that crushed them early on during the road trip. Phoenix is tired after four games in five nights. Making it more difficult is the major key to winning is fast break and effort, which are tougher at the end of road trips.
Although I’m rooting for the Suns, look for them to go all out and make it a great game for 44 minutes. I think the final four minutes of the 4th quarter will go Indiana’s way. Nothing wrong with a 3-1 East Coast trip. Hopefully Suns fans will embrace the team when they get home Saturday night versus Charlotte to start a run to the postseason.