Roy Hibbert scored at the 2:42 mark of the 1st quarter to give the Indiana Pacers a 19-5 lead.
The Miami Heat would outscore them 94-68 the rest of the way, en route to a 99-87 win. Miami now has a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 in Miami on Monday night.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get to it.
Things that pleased me:
“What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?”
“Put it up to eleven.”
– Nigel Tufnel and Marty DiBergi, discussing the intensity of the Heat’s defense.
(If you’ve never seen “This is Spinal Tap”, I recommend you do so. However, you should probably stop watching after the “Eleven” scene.)
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to go 18/30 (60%) for 49 points. They might be good at this basketball stuff. In other news, water is wet.
Ray Allen was spectacular, as he rained fire on the Pacers. Someone that isn’t David West might want to cover him. Why West was covering him is beyond me, but that’s Frank Vogel for you.
But none of that matters if the Heat didn’t get going on defense, which they did when Erik Spoelstra put Rashard Lewis in the game because of his ability to play lockdown defense.
With Chris Bosh in foul trouble, Spoelstra turned to Lewis to for some extended minutes, probably so he could have a stretch-big in the game. However, it was Lewis’ effort on defense that helped Miami get going. He made West work, denying him the ball and not letting him get position wherever he wanted. Then he had a huge block on Hibbert that started a fast break.
Then Norris Cole harassed Lance Stephenson and C.J. Watson. Then the Heat broke out the full court press on a team that plays long stretches without a true point guard. This forces Indiana to stop the ball movement and plays to the strength of the Miami defense. Turnovers are forced. Buckets are had. Faces are scowled.
That’s Miami Heat 101. Defense creates offense. And it’s absolutely beautiful. It becomes the visual representation of Mozart’s music. Yes, I might have been drinking when I thought of that.
Things that annoyed me: The 1st quarter. Miami has been sluggish to start this whole series. Look, the Heat have shown they can beat the Pacers at the grind-it-out game that Indy loves to play. But they need to impose their will on the Pacers from tip-off. Again, the Pacers don’t have a natural point guard, so they can be susceptible to careless turnovers because they force the ball to go where it shouldn’t. Indy can easily be forced to become a one-on-one team, and that is death when facing the Heat.
Things that perplexed me: There’s a guy on the court that claims to be Chris Bosh, but I don’t think that’s really him. It’s some sort of impostor. He looks like him, though. He runs like him; shoots jumpers like him. That’s not him. It can’t be.
You see, this “Chris Bosh” isn’t playing with confidence. He’s forcing everything, as opposed to letting the game come to him. He knows that he has to contribute, but he’s trying too hard to do so. That’s not Chris Bosh. Someone needs to send a search party out and find the real Chris Bosh.
Scale of 1-to-10, How badly did you want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers?: 3. He only played 13 minutes, so his damage was held to a minimum. Yet he still had 3 turnovers. Cole really has out-played him and one has to think if Spoelstra is considering a lineup change. That would make Chalmers angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
What we learned: Spoelstra is picking Vogel apart. It hasn’t been fair. Any adjustment Spoelstra has made, Vogel has failed to respond. It’s like Floyd Mayweather using the first couple of rounds to get a feel for what an opponent is doing, while the other guy is trying to throw haymakers. Then comes the dissection in the middle rounds. Then it’s over.
Panic meter: N/A. It is 2-1, as Miami is starting to tighten its grip on this series. Pacers hadn’t lost back-to-back games in the playoffs until now. Sure, they trailed to Atlanta and Washington in the earlier rounds. But those teams were out of their depths as they played above their heads. Now they’re playing a video game boss, without a cheat code. That’s because the Heat are the cheat code. How will they respond?