Lance Stephenson said being aggressive was his goal after a Game 5 where he was anything but. The man with the nickname "Born Ready" played the part in Game 6 Saturday and his performance may well have been the difference between the Pacers packing their bags for Miami and the Eastern Conference Finals or for New York and Game 7 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.
"I just wanted to be aggressive. Just try to penetrate and dish or try to take it to the basket," Stephenson said. "Just try to make smart plays. I did that tonight and we got the win."
Stephenson finished Game 6 with a career high 25 points, 10 rebounds and a huge steal that swung the momentum of the game in the fourth quarter. Tied 92-92, Stephenson picked off a Carmelo Anthony pass intended for J.R. Smith and took it all the way to the rim for a three-point play. A few minutes later, Stephenson drove to the basket and drew Tyson Chandler's sixth foul. After the game, head coach Frank Vogel said he had to prod Stephenson between Games 5 and 6 and to attack the rim.
"There's been times throughout this year where he hasn't been assertive and we're not very good when he's not." Vogel said. "And when he's in attack mode like he was tonight, boy we're really good."
Stephenson and the Pacers now head to Miami, where they'll play the same Heat team that knocked them out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season. The Pacers will need Stephenson's aggression, as he's likely to be shadowed by Dwyane Wade, who while hobbled will still look to take advantage of Stephenson's playoff inexperience.
Game 1 tips off at 8:30 p.m. ET in Miami. The Eastern Conference Finals can be seen on TNT.