The Miami Heat stand one win away from history as they beat the Indiana Pacers 102-90 to take 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
A series win would give the Heat a trip to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, joining the Boston Celtics (twice) and the Los Angeles Lakers (once) as the only teams to accomplish that feat. Take that, Michael Jordan!
Let’s see what brought us to the brink of history.
Things that pleased me: The return of Chris Bosh. The Heat made it a point to run some plays for him and he made them count. He started the scoring with a jumper from the right elbow, then drilled back-to-back 3s. Boshua Q. Bear finished with 25 points on 7/12 shooting. He had the pump-fake working and was able to get some drives to the basket. Good to see.
LeBron James, of course, was his usual omnipotent self. He had 32 points on 13/21 shooting, with 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Clearly Lance Stephenson was in his head, as LeBron should have scored 40. Great work, Lance!
Speaking of Stephenson, Norris Cole is in his head. He’s also in his wallet, as Cole’s defense has made Stephenson look bad and might be costing him money.
Things that annoyed me: Not a whole lot, actually. Although the Heat falling asleep in the fourth quarter and allowing the Pacers to get the lead back down to 9 was ridiculous. I had to hold off on a couple of jokes that I had ready to use on the All U Can Heat Twitter account (@FanSidedHeat *Insert Mick Foley thumbs up*). Miami can have those lulls where they take the foot off the gas and try to coast to the end. Thankfully they have the Flying Death Machine bringing destruction to all he sees.
Things that perplexed me: I think Paul George lost his mind. In a game where the Pacers never held the lead, he actually said that he felt that the Heat were getting the benefit of foul calls. He also claimed that Indiana is as aggressive offensively as Miami. I guess his stat-sheet didn’t have the information that Brian Kopp of STATS wrote about that stated the Heat had 27 drives to the basket for 33 points. The Pacers? 11 for 10 points. Super aggressive George didn’t contribute to that number, since he made no effort in driving to the basket.
Yes, the Pacers shot 49% for the game and scored 40 points in the paint. They actually got something from their bench – 23 points – yet still were trailing by double-digits for the majority of the game. Indy had playing catch-up the whole game. Whose fault is it that they couldn’t stop Miami? How is it possible that he thinks they outplayed the Heat?
Scale of 1-to-10, How badly did you want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers?: 1. He really didn’t do enough to get angry at, so that’s good news for the lamp. Cole really has eaten into his playing time, however.
What we learned: The Pacers remind me of a child that is looking for validation from an adult. “Look at what we can do! We play great defense! We have home court!” Then when things don’t go their way, or they start to get publicly criticized, all you hear are excuses. If you listened to them, this was the year they toppled the Heat. They wanted the one-seed; they added to their bench; they learned from last year. Now it’s all falling apart, and they’re not ready to admit that they weren’t as good as Miami. There’s infighting in the locker room. Roy Hibbert is questioning the game plan, and Frank Vogel is playing terrible defense on Shane Battier 3-point attempts.
Panic meter: N/A. I don’t know if the Pacers show up for Game 5. It seems like they’re coming apart at the seams. Stephenson is playing for a contract. Hibbert is playing for himself. George is playing to re-capture the hype he had coming into this year. One thing they don’t seem to be playing for is the one thing the Heat are focused on, and that’s something that has always separated these two teams.