In game 1, Al Jefferson was a spark. A scoring and rebounding machine that the Pacers had no answer for. In game 2, he largely disappeared. Charley Rosen notes that he looked "clumsy and ineffective," and Doc benched him for the second half.
Well, that's a rookie's life.
But the bottom line is that this kid can swing this series. Even at his young age, he's hands down our best post performer (except maybe Payton, and that is a different thing altogether). He has better touch than Walker and just as much knack for getting to the rim. He's one of our best rebounders, and he provides energy and spark that gets the rest of the team jazzed.
Aside from the chep fouls and defensive rotations, one issue that we've all seen since training camp, is his difficulty passing from the post. This will be critical since the Boy Genius Coach on the other sideline is going to run double teams at him to disrupt his scoring. The honeymoon is over, and this kid isn't going to sneak up on anyone anymore. How he handles that attention will dictate the slope of his learning curve.
I still see Walker as the better option for the bulk of the minutes at the 4 spot. However, I hope Al will get a fair run in the next game. I'll also be rooting for Al to see some time at the 5 spot. Its not like the Pacers have a dominating center you have to match size with. I'd hope that his teammates could find Al whenever the play rotates Pollard or Foster into single coverage on him.
Its too much to put on him to say that he's the "key" to this series. However, I think that he could put us over the top if we put ourselves in position to take advantage of his talents.