After practice Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers were still trying to explain their pitiful performance in game five of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Their poor effort Tuesday night was most glaring on the glass. The Washington Wizards out rebounded the Pacers 62-23. The Pacers allowed the most rebounds and collected the fewest in their playoff history.
"I thought they played harder than us,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel after practice Wednesday. “You're in the elite eight, so to speak, of the NBA playoffs. If you don't play harder than the team you're playing against, you're going to lose, period.”
Teams usually try to put win and losses out their minds quickly in order to focus on the next game. But Vogel hopes the second worst home playoff loss in franchise history will motivate the Pacers in game six of the best-of-seven series Thursday night (8:00 p.m. TNT).
“I don't mind if our guys are going to carry a little bit of a bad taste into (Thursday) night's game, for sure," said Vogel.
“They really just destroyed us in every part of the game, so there should be something in the back of our mind going into this game six,” said Pacers forward Paul George.
Maybe the best thing about game six is that it's not in Indianapolis. The Pacers were the best home team in the NBA this season, but are just 3-and-4 in the playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers are 4-and-1 on the road this postseason.
Pacers center Roy Hibbert had played well in three straight victories. But Wizards Center Marcin Gortat dominated game 5 with 31 points and 16 rebounds.
"I need to be aggressive, smart on defense,” said Hibbert. “I take responsibility for how I played (Tuesday) night. I need to bring more of an effort, more passion out there. We have another chance to close it out. It will be a different Roy than what you saw (Tuesday) night."
The Pacers definitely need a different and better effort from not just Roy Hibbert, but the entire team. The Pacers lead the series 3-games-to-2 and can clinch a return trip to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win Thursday night. A loss would force a deciding game seven Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.?