Effective. Quiet but confident. A hint of swag even. Hard working. Loyal to it's roots, past and present. May not be viewed as the best from the outside, but when given the opportunity, can hang with the cream of the crop.
The description is the city of Indianapolis that Pacers point guard George Hill grew up in. That's also the city that watched him hold his palms out forward, begging for Paul George to pass him the ball even before George that the ball to assist him. Then with 4:48 left in the third, it was Hill dropping the same number-three that is on his jersey from beyond the arc to give Indiana a 64-55 lead on Monday night.
As he ran down the court with his arms waving emphatically through the air, while the fans screamed at the top of their lungs for their home-grown star, one had to realize this must have been moment that Hill had dreamed of ever since he was lacing up for the Rockets at Broad Ripple High School. The local boyhood star embraced the city as he embraced them back, something they had been waiting for since the Pacers traded for George Hill from the San Antonio Spurs back in the 2011 NBA Draft back in June.
And at that moment, all those descriptive terms that can be used to describe the city of Indianapolis, could describe HIll as well. He is the city of Naptown, the city of Naptown is him. For a split second, Hill almost felt like a young teenager all over again.
"It reminded me of Market Square Arena," said Hill who finished with 18 points in the Pacers game-two victory over Orlando. "It reminded me of when the Pacers use to be one of the top teams in the NBA, when the fans used to show so much support with the die-hard fans. To see this building last night, in all of blue and gold, it was something special."
Hill was just one of the many Pacers showing off passion on Monday night, and with the new local media campaign the team has out, you can't blame them for wanting to show off how much this team truly cares. There wasn't a lack of excitement from anybody wearing a Pacers jersey, even all the way down to Lance Stephenson on the bench who has become the team's main celebratory figure with his warm-ups on. But Hill realizes that Indiana's excitement only comes with how loud Bankers Life Fieldhouse can get.
"I was watching that Larry Bird commercial and they were saying we don't play with any emotion," said Hill laughing. "It was kind of a joke though, but I wanted to bring the intensity to the people to let them know that it's our house here. We have to protect it, and the more support we get from our fans, the better off we are going to be."
Pacers ready for Magic to be inspired by home crowd
Paul George nearly tore the roof down of Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a dunk midway through the second quarter on Monday night. It's safe to say if he performs a similar play against the Magic at the Amway Center on Wednesday night, he won't be getting quite the same reaction from the home crowd.
After practice Tuesday afternoon in preparations for game three, Indiana jumped on a flight from Indianapolis to Orlando to get ready for what they believe will be one of the most difficult environments they have endured all season.
"Whether we are playing here are there, we have to come out with the same mindset," said Paul George, who finished with 17 points on Monday. "We just have to stick and stay with what has been giving us wins this year. We know it is going to be a hostile environment, but that is what makes this time of playing basketball fun."
George and the Pacers have had mixed results down in Florida, going 1-1 while playing at the Amway Center this year. Back on January 29th the Pacers put the hammer down on Orlando with a 106-85 victory over the Magic, but tripped during their next visit with a 107-94 loss on March 11th. Dwight Howard played in both of those games for the Magic, but Orlando hasn't necessarily lost too much of a step without their superstar in the line-up.
Veteran David West believes it will take a collective calm to achieve similar results on their two-game road trip on Wednesday and Saturday, which a split would be something Indiana would gladly take against a team that went 21-12 on their court.
"Throughout the year we have been able to win on the road," said West, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in game two. "So we know we just have to go and be more precise in terms of our execution. It is going to be a tough environment, but we have to stay at a certain level in terms of our aggression and how hard we want to play."
- Pacers center Roy Hibbert doesn't seem to be too worried about his offensive production so far in the playoffs, as he has 26 rebounds and 11 blocks to go with is low offensive output of 12 points. "My thing is defense," said Hibbert. "I just want to be a defensive presence on the court at all times."
- Danny Granger admits the Pacers feel good about averaging the series at 1-1, but feels that the squad doesn't want to get too confident after it's first win of the postseason.
"I never want to say we are relaxed because we never want to be in that mindset," said Granger. "We have to realize that every single game, you don't look at the whole series. We just want to win each game, win each possession even if you look at it that way and then it will take care of itself."
- Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel, who finished third in the Coach of the Year voting to San Antonio's Greg Popovich, cut down the play of his second rotation in game two compared to game one. Reserves Darren Collison (12:09) and Lou Amundson (7:00) saw incredibly less playing time, while the likes of Tyler Hansbrough and Leandro Barbosa (10 points) saw an increased time with the starters. Vogel said it's something that he hopes he won't have to get used too.
"We can't play our starters the full game and it has come and gone throughout the whole year," said Vogel. "Sometimes there are times when the stars are the guys that are struggling and our second unit picks them up. We will keep the normal rotation, and if a certain unit isn't getting it done, then we will adjust."
- Despite his seemingly effective play against the Pacers, Magic forward/center Glen Davis has a plus/minus score of -33 during the first two games of the series. Meaning when Davis is on the court, the Magic have trailed the Pacers by a total 33 points. On the opposite side of things, Pacers forward David West has a score of +32, meaning Indiana is defeating Orlando by a combined 32 points when he is on the court.
Pacers Playoffs Notebook: Hill excited about energizing hometown
The Indiana Pacers (1-1) will play game three of the first round best of seven series against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
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