HEAT prevail as a team, and let-talk-stay-cheap in a 95-86 win over Pacers for Game 1, led by an MVP Performance from the 2011-2012 award recipient LeBron James.
Talk led the charge in the papers this week. Pacer’s Head coach Frank Vogle seemed to think the Miami HEAT team just got together yesterday, summon their talents by luck and lack the talent to win without “flopping” on defense, among other things.
“Flopping,’ of course referring to taking an offensive foul, to which the HEAT drew only one, and still managed to own the tempo in the 4th quarter and end with the win, HEAT-Style. The HEAT scorched the Pacers tonight, led by MVP3 LeBron James, scoring 32 points, 15 -Monster-Rebounds, and 5 Assists; followed by D-Wade’s 29 Points, and Chris Bosh adding 13 Points/5 Boards. Exclamation point to the now bulletin-board material provided by the Indiana Pacers, as if the HEAT needed any other motivation to get past the Pacers quickly and on to the Conference Finals.
HEAT dominated throughout despite trailing in score for a large part of the game; the Big 3 scored 74 of the team’s 95 total points, but not without consequence. Late in the 2nd quarter, Chris Bosh went down following a drive to the basket and left with an abdominal strain, cutting the mood of an otherwise hyped-playoff atmosphere and leaving a huge question mark to his status and availability for the game, series, and post-season future.
With Bosh out, the HEAT had to dig deep internally to pull this one out, enlisted the heart of the bench and got a concerted, quality defensive 2nd half despite trailing most of the game. Rony Touriaf gained entry with the Bosh-exit and added quality defensive minutes with 4 points on offense to the crowd’s delight (Touriaf is a favorite with his style, hustle, and output anytime he’s in); Mike Miller and Shane Battier added strong minutes on defense as well. Joel Anthony was another high-point, clutching the slack left by the ailing Bosh to add 9 points and 7 rebounds in the winning effort.
Keys of the Game:
1. HEAT Basketball-a return to transitional defense-to-offensive play swayed momentum on both sides of the court, ally-oops and fast breaks with James and Wade leading the charge.
2. LeBron James. Accepting the MVP Trophy for a 3rd time, and following a moving acceptance speech the day prior at the AAA, let the world know why he’s the one holding the hardware this year. Tonight’s numbers are “Witness,” but in the same breath you have to mention his defense and his leadership in running point tonight and keeping the ship sailing true. He did not allow any unraveling of purpose or scope following CB1′s untimely exit and got the needed result. Executed like a true champion.
3. HEAT Defense: Although the HEAT struggled offensively, they did not allow the Pacers to score above 40% from the field and under 90 points for the game (including a dismal 16 point final period). At times the true test of a champion is not how you perform when you’re playing well, but how well you manage the game when you play poorly. HEAT shot 40% themselves, but managed to out-will the Pacers all night in transition and on defense and get the win.
Par for the course was Pacers coming in to the AAA and losing by 7, they lost by 2 more than that and were, even with the lead for better part of 3 quarters IRRELEVANT. Irrelevant in scoring, irrelevant on defense, irrelevant on just about every measure on both sides of the floor. While holding the lead in a back-forth grind-it-out playoff game, they never held the capacity to break this one open, not against a HEAT team that maintained pace and strength on defense.
In truth, with lead in hand it was only a matter of time before the HEAT drew blood and made this their game. The Pacers might as well have been an animatronic from Disney World dressed up like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, throw in a Goofy, and any other characters I can’t think of that exist at the Magic Kingdom to make a 5 player squad, then having them lace-up against the HEAT for a playoff game. Charge the public $50/person to see the whole shebang, give the viewers some schwag for showing up, and after the game an aw-shucks, better luck next time, thanks for coming out, then a big-Adios to Peyton-World, Indianapolis (Is it Luck-World now? Sure isn’t Vogle-Land or Roy Hibbert’s Islands of Adventure that’s for sure).
Regardless, HEAT Fans can exhale and sleep well tonight, even if losing Bosh for an an undermined amount of post seasoned games. While there is a certain sting that comes with the loss of CB1, a certain theme of ’15 strong”, while not the 2005-06 HEAT squad, seems to resonate loudly right now.
Maybe it was the summoning of the team by LeBron to the podium in acceptance of his MVP award, maybe it goes back to last season. In any case, there are few gaps in the team as a cohesive unit, and after the latest test all are eager and able to rise to the challenge when called. The HEAT proved it tonight, while absolutely in pain with the loss of Bosh and wish him the best in a speedy recovery-are confident in their abilities, are up for the challenge Tuesday for Game 2 in Miami against the ‘Pacers. Or Goofys; whoever decides to show up. Whoever, Whatever-Bring them all on.