MIAMI (AP) — Frank Vogel stood with his back against a wall, seeming perfectly comfortable.
He’s hoping his Indiana Pacers can do the same.
The Pacers’ season of great expectation is now in great trouble, with the Miami Heat leading the Eastern Conference finals 3-1 heading into Game 5 at Indianapolis on Wednesday night. The Heat have won three straight in the series, and are now one win from ending the Pacers’ season for a third consecutive year.
“I think anytime you lose three in a row in the playoffs, it shakes your confidence some,” Vogel said in a downtown Miami hotel lobby before the Pacers headed to the airport Tuesday. “But we can’t worry about that. All we’ve got to worry about is coming back and winning Game 5 and giving us an opportunity to come down here and win one game.
“We’ve won one game in each playoff series that we’ve played here the last two years. We should have confidence that we can do that.”
It’s safe to wonder if confidence is in short supply, though, as the Pacers seem to be rattling.
Some Indiana issues in the last three games include: Floundering late to lose Game 2 at home, blowing a 15-point lead at Miami in Game 3, Lance Stephenson calling LeBron James out before Game 4, Roy Hibbert failing to score a point Monday, and Paul George and David West both putting that loss on what they thought was one-sided officiating.
“Home-cooking,” George said.
Added West: “We learned some new rules.”
Vogel said he wasn’t bothered by what George said, and declined to say if the Pacers would argue Game 4 officiating points with the league office.
It’s the latest bump in Indiana’s up-and-down postseason ride, though it’s never been as down as it is now.
Vogel — in a pre-flight film session before the Pacers left Miami — implored his players to only think about Game 5 and not allow themselves to become consumed with the daunting task of climbing out of a 3-1 hole.
“I think that is when we are at our best, when our back is against the wall,” Pacers guard George Hill said. “We are going to be home in front of our fans and I’m sure they’re going to be going crazy.”
Neither team practiced Tuesday.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was scheduled to address reporters in the afternoon before Miami’s flight to Indiana.
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