May 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (right) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade (left) during the second half in game two of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

HEAT – Pacers Game 3 preview


May 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Joel Anthony (50) reacts after colliding with Indiana Pacers during the second half in game two of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Two days ago we saw the Heat fall victim to Indiana Pacers in a 75-78 loss at home. When you look at the game, it certainly seems like the Heat gave it away, with James and Wade missing 5 free throws in the 4th as well as 9 shots. It was right there – 54 seconds on the clock, Heat down by 1 point, James at the line. He bricked both. Wade missed a layup he makes 9 out of 10 times in crunch time, and despite Pacers missing critical free throws down the stretch, Miami left the AAA with their heads down.

The absence of Chris Bosh was felt. James scored 28 points in the game, Wade contributed with 24 while the rest of the team managed to score 23 points, with no one scoring over 5 points. You could point towards the fact that Chalmers got into foul trouble early in the 3rd, forcing Spoelstra to put Norris Cole in the contest and go deeper into his rotation at critical times. Even so, the game would have looked different if Bosh was out there with his 15-20 points and 8 or so boards.

May 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers shooting guard Paul George (left) and small forward Danny Granger (right) celebrate their 78-85 win over the Miami Heat in game two of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

But he won’t be – at least not for this series. As much as the game 2 loss stings, it’s back to business tonight and game 3 might very well be the most important one of the series. If Heat lose and go down 1-2, with Bosh out and another questionable performance by the role-players, they will be in deep trouble. If they win, they not only take back the home court advantage, but prove that they can win the series without Bosh.

Keys to the game

The defense will be there for Miami, you can count on that. James did a terrific job guarding pretty much everyone on the floor Tuesday night. He did a terrific job on David West on several occasions, denying him the ball in the post. But Indiana are not that shabby on defense either. Combine that with another poor shooting night from the role-players (the rest of the team apart from James and Wade shot 26% from the field collectively in game 2) and Heat will be in trouble.

May 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) greets shooting guard Mike Miller (13) during the second half in game two of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The bench is going to have to step up, because Wade and James simply cannot do it on their own. It will, however, be crucial that the two Heat stars remain aggressive and provide a lot of scoring. Get Pacers into foul trouble early and force them to go deep into their rotation rather than the other way around. Granger and George had a bigger impact on game 3, and Heat must make them work even more on both ends of the floor. Heat got out-rebounded 50-40 in game 2, despite usually being ahead in that category against the Pacers. With no Bosh Heat are going to have to put up a heck of an effort rebounding the ball.

Even though you don’t want to live by the three, Heat really need to start knocking down some shots. So far in the series, Heat are shooting an atrocious and mind-blowing 4.5% from behind the arc, hitting a mere 1 three pointer out of 22 attempts.

Tags: Chris Bosh Danny Granger Dwyane Wade Erik Spoelstra Featured Game 3 Indiana Pacers Lebron James Miami Heat NBA Playoffs 2012 Paul George Popular