HEAT made their statement-game of the series in Sunday’s 101-93 win over the Pacers. LeBron James made a statement of his own with some epic stats in the winning effort, but perhaps the most telling was this statement after the game.
Says James, “I felt like I had to do whatever it took to win.”
Whatever it took to win looked something like this: 40 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks/2 steals. It was also full court domination of the Pacers offensively, defensively, on timeouts, from the locker room, probably from the hotel and the team bus as well. He could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to do it, scoring/assisting on at least 80 points of Miami’s 101. It was about being strong, the rock, getting partner/team-mate/co-super hero Dwyane Wade some needed confidence resulting in 30 points 9 rebounds of his own. It was being himself, the score-or-pass-at-will, aggressive to the basket behemoth-player he’s known for. Most importantly, it was recognizing a situation for his team that was on the borderline of desperate, picking up the pieces, applying talents where they needed them and getting the win. “Whatever it took to win”, LeBron James found it, HEAT fans rejoice the day! Critics, opposing teams, watch out.
There was no indicator in the beginning of the positive end result. It was a similar start to Thursday’s game 3 loss, Pacers went on an early run with the HEAT struggling to score, juggling turnovers and poor defense to muddle their efforts. Four minutes into the game, the HEAT had 5 turnovers, 0-4 from the field. As the game progressed, the only thing that started to show any consistency was LeBron James to the hole and to the foul line. Wade struggled early, carrying heavy legs for 2 quarters and managing only one-made basket in 8 attempts. By all signs, the nightmare that began Thursday looked like it was making a second appearance on Sunday afternoon, decimating the HEAT’s hopes to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then “whatever it took to win” did just that. The HEAT rallied in a monster-second half spurred by Wade and James’ flawless execution on offense and defense, rendering a larger Pacer’s team helpless/useless in their attacks. Everyone dared them to bring it, and they got what they asked for, “witnessing” the HEAT collect their poise, get the win and keep the series alive.
Some highlights, by the numbers:
1. LeBron James/Dwyane Wade: Combined for 38 consecutive HEAT points from the 2nd to 3rd quarter. Total stat line? 70 Points on 27-50 Shooting, 27 Rebounds, 15 Assists, 3 steals/4 blocks. LeBron James was also 12-16 from the free-throw line, which was a night-day improvement over his 1-4 performance Thursday. If it seems like they single handedly beat the Pacers, there’s a half-truth to that. They did beat them, singlehandedly in the 2nd half 43-39. That’s two people beating a 9-man rotation squad, in the NBA. Two people. Doing whatever it took to win.
2. Bench Play: At this point, single performances from the HEAT bench are just about null-void; it’s the collective effort to get 20 points and 10 rebounds and support the first unit to get the win. Sunday they did just that, 20 Points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. However the big performance of the night was from Udonis Haslem, 14 points-4 rebounds in 15 minutes. He has been the big question mark, which Sunday he turned into exclamation point hitting spot-up shots, layups at will. Welcome back U-D!
3. HEAT Defense/Points in the paint: Allowed the Pacers only 42% scoring for the night, and beat them scoring inside the paint 50-32. This is a remarkable effort in a 4th game by the HEAT, especially to be winning two battles that were supposed to be such a challenge given the Pacer’s big-men and undersized HEAT roster.
At the end of the day-HEAT prevail by playing their brand of basketball lead by quality play. No favors were given by the Pacers in this series thus far; the HEAT have managed to succeed when they play THEIR game, and failure when they do otherwise. If the “whatever it takes to win”motto holds true in execution, this HEAT team will be very difficult to beat by anyone 4 out of 7, period. On toward the next test Tuesday for Game 5.