The Indiana Pacers squeaked by the Miami Heat 93-90 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami still leads 3-2, as the series head back to South Florida for Game 6 on Friday.
First and foremost, I hate the narrative of blaming the referees for the result of a game. It’s lazy. There’s enough opportunities on the court for the game to be decided by the players. This game was no exception.
Things that pleased me: 2009 Rashard Lewis made a special appearance, as he dropped 6 3-pointers to finish with 18 points. Poor guy had a rough go of it in Games 3 and 4, so this was a pleasant development.
Chris Bosh went for 20 points and 10 rebounds, as he kept the momentum going from Game 4. With LeBron James in foul trouble, he picked up the slack. Ray Allen also lent a hand, going for 15 points and running around like he was 29 years old. Dwyane Wade was solid, going for 18 on 7/14 shooting.
And there was a Michael Beasley sighting! I felt like a proud father. Sadly, he didn’t play well.
Things that annoyed me: Sorry.
The third quarter. Miami was outscored 31-15 in the quarter. They had help discovering offense – Indy scored 11 in the second quarter – with the Heat drunkenly turning the ball over (6 in the quarter). Norris Cole had 2 in the frame (1 of which he bounced off his foot) and what’s a Heat game without Wade throwing a lazy pass that gets picked off?
Once LeBron picked up his fifth foul and was taken out, the Heat offense turned into the Bulls. The ball didn’t move around. They settled for jumpers; Heat were 1 for 5 in the paint. They played to the Pacers strength on defense.
Meanwhile, Paul George was fantastic, going for 37 points (21 in the fourth quarter) on 15/28 shooting, as he was making shots from all over the court. He had the game of his life. Let’s move on before I set something on fire.
Things that perplexed me: It’s 2014, yet we’re still making the “Should he have shot or not?” argument about LeBron James. I just don’t get it.
LeBron has shown that he’s all about making the right basketball play. He drives to the basket, 4 guys converge on him, one of which is Roy Hibbert leaving his guy (Bosh) open in the corner. What’s wrong with that? Bosh has shown he can make that shot in that situation. My problem was with Allen and Lewis being bunched up at the elbow, which allowed Allen’s guy (George Hill) to converge quickly on the shot. You could argue that Bosh should have made the extra pass to Allen, but that’s splitting hairs. It still was a good look.
Even if LeBron shoots the runner and makes it…we’re tied. Game goes to overtime, where LeBron still has to be cautious because he has five fouls. You realize the fouls don’t reset, right? Going for the kill was the right thing to do. Ball just didn’t go through the net. That’s basketball; it happens.
Scale of 1-to-10, How badly did you want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers?: We’ll skip this, as there’s still a lot to discuss.
What we learned: LeBron might be the human embodiment of SkyNet, as he is a machine that is completely aware of the world at large. Once he checked back into the game in the fourth quarter, he was tentative when it came to getting to the basket. He knew that the chances of a charge being called on him were at an all-time high. It didn’t help that Lance Stephenson was doing everything in his power to draw a sixth foul on him. Like, he wasn’t even trying to play defense, as he was more concerned about getting the physics right so he knew which direction he had to flop towards so it looked believable. It was a sight to behold. Not to mention the ear blowing thing. Stephenson is definitely a guy that wears Ed Hardy shirts.
Back to LeBron…he was in zero rhythm in the fourth quarter, as he floated an air ball on a runner (luckily Bosh was there on the put back) and settled for jumpers or passing out of a situation where he might have gone to the basket, which ended up resetting the offense. He wasn’t aggressive late in the game. Just a bad night at the office for him.
On the plus side…
Panic meter: 1. Let’s recap: Paul George had an out-of-body experience; can’t take anything away from him. The Pacers outscored the Heat in the paint 42-22; Indy had an advantage of 22-8 on free throw attempts (I bet they weren’t complaining); Miami had 17 turnovers; the best player on the planet played only 24 minutes; Indiana fought for their season in front of their fans.
And only won by 3.
Yes, Miami shot 48% from downtown which helped keep them in the game while LeBron sat on the bench with 5 fouls in 3 quarters. But the point is that Indiana needed a lot to go their way to scrape by Miami.
Now, they’re fighting to extend the series in Miami, in front of an annoyed crowd (say what you want about Heat fans, but they’ve been great this series), and a rested LeBron James.
Go get ‘em, Pacers.