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May 9, 2012
Playoff Prospectus
Closing Out

by Dan Feldman

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at Indiana 105, at Orlando 87 (Pacers win 4-1)
Pace: 85.2
Offensive Ratings: Indiana 120.0, Orlando 104.9

After losing Game 1, the Pacers did what we all expected them to do: Put away the Magic with minimal difficulty. Indiana won the final four games of the series by 15, 23, 2 and 18 points and advance to the second round for the first time since 2005.

In the final game, Darren Collison was the difference. Specifically, Collison was the difference in the fourth quarter, when he played like Chris Paul. Collison scored 15 points on 7-on-7 shooting with three assists and a steal as the Pacers outscored Orlando, 36-16.

Long before Collison sparked Indiana, David West had six points, two rebounds, two blocks and a steal to lead the Pacers to an 11-point lead when he went to the bench late in the first quarter. At that point, it appeared the Pacers could effectively close the series early, and they held a comfortable lead for most of the first half.

But Orlando went on a 10-0 run late in the second quarter and trailed by just three at halftime. Although the Magic, carried by Jameer Nelson, kept the margin tight into the fourth quarter its big run was just fool's gold. Glen Davis can convert a thrilling and-one, as he did in the run, but counting on him to make 20-foot jumpers won't do. In fact, counting on produce throughout the game, even only inside, won't do.

Davis played a team-high 38 minutes per game in the series--well up from the 23.4 he played during the regular season. As you might expect of someone his size, his fatigue showed, and he made just 2-of-8 shots for four points in the second half.

That's not to blame Stan Van Gundy for misusing Davis. With Dwight Howard out, what else could he do? The Magic's entire identity is based on Howard, and without him on the court, nothing looked coherent over a sustained period of time.

Orlando was –20 in the 34 minutes at least four starters were in the game tonight and +6 in 14 minutes otherwise. The players most used to playing with Howard simply couldn't adjust. And then, of course, there's talent missing without the game's best center.

The Magic's best chance to steal this game was to get hot from beyond the arc, but the Pacers won that battle, 9-of-17 (52 percent) to 11-of-30 (37 percent). If it weren't for a somewhat fluky stretch late in the second quarter, this game would've gotten lopsided even sooner.

The Magic made runs. Indiana is moving on.

Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Dan by clicking here or click here to see Dan's other articles.

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