Tag: Indiana Pacers
For a while now some of his critics, and I sure include myself among these, have said that LeBron James just doesn’t seem to have that clutch performance. For a while, James seemed to go out of phase in the final minutes, just when his team needed him most. Sure he has proven on occasions that he can take that winning-shot and deliver, but that just as well he can be an utter disappointment. Not this time however. With the series on the line and with the Miami Heat’s chances of making it into the NBA Finals for the third straight year in peril, the Heat needed an answer. And LeBron James delivered a third quarter as we have rarely seen in the NBA. Right after the halftime break, James came out to score 16 of his 30 points for the night to take what was up to that point a close game two a 20 point blowout before the Pacers tried to close in the gap.
At the end, however, despite a big effort to get back in the game from the Pacers, the game was gone. The Miami Heat managed to take a 90-79 win at home, making a very important statement in South Beach. Sure, the series now moves to Indianapolis for game 6, and most likely, these two teams are going to have to fight and stick around for the long run. Sure James and the Heat are only one game away from reaching the NBA Finals and facing the San Antonio Spurs. But it doesn’t seem as if the Pacers are going to go down without a fight. And game 6 is going to be a win or die situation for Indiana, and that’s really when Roy Hibbert and Paul George step up their game.
“That’s what I came here for, to be able to compete for a championship each and every year,” LeBron James said to the press after he guided the Heat with 30 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists for the night. “I’m one step away from doing it once again. It’s not promised. It’s not promised at all. I made a tough decision. Obviously, I think we all know the story. I envisioned something that was bigger as far as a team … and we’ve got an opportunity as a team, once again, for the third year straight to make a trip to the NBA Finals.” This was a very harsh turnaround for Indiana. Let’s not forget that the Pacers were up 46-40 early in the third quarter, but then James took out the big guns and it was a done deal.
Paul George had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 22 points from Roy Hibbert and 17 from David West. It was a good all around effort but they really seemed to have no answer for James. Now, if they want to get back into the grand stage, Indiana is going to have to win back to back games and somehow find a way to get James in a more vulnerable position and slow him down. And once they do that hope that neither Dwayne Wade nor Chris Bosh step up to the task.
The Indiana Pacers knew quite well before the start of this matchup that there was no turning point. Game 4 had to be a win. Nothing else would do. Had the Heat managed to take away 2 consecutive games at Indianapolis, there was no chance whatsoever for the Pacers to beat the Heat in South Beach for game 5. Before the game, in s short interview, the Pacers head coach, Frank Vogel, said that they would treat this game as if it was a game 7. And truth be said, it showed. The Indiana Pacers started hot with an 11-0 run that got the spirits high in the stadium and they managed to bring the Heat into their game. At the end, with a brilliant performance from the Pacers’ own Roy Hibbert and his 23 points and 12 rebounds, Indiana took a 99-92 win over the Heat.
The game was not pretty, I must say. But it doesn’t matter too much either. At these instances, it’s all about winning. Be it pretty or just extremely functional basketball, whatever it takes to beat the defending champions seems like the right thing to do. Lance Stephenson chipped in with 20 points and 5 rebounds while came in to add 14 points and 12 rebounds. “I just felt the guys showed a lot of fight,” West said in the postgame press conference. “We’ve got a group of guys on this team that are full of heart. A tough group, willing to step up to the challenge. We knew this was a make-or-break game for us.”
The Pacers managed not only to show their offensive prowess, but they really worked hard on slowing down the high-scoring Miami’s Big Three. But if we have to trace this one out, credit has to go to Roy Hibbert. Just for the sake of perspective, please consider for a moment that Hibbert is only the second player in postseason history (next to Dirk Nowitzki in the 2011 NBA Finals) who has 20+ points and 10+ boards in 3 straight games. Sure enough LeBron James guided the Heat with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. But he fouled out for only his second playoffs game in his career. Chris Bosh only added 7 points and 3 rebounds, and Dwayne Wade chipped in with 16 points and 6 assists, but both players seemed to be hurting at different moments of the game.
The Heat needs Wade and Bosh to bring on their A-game for the end of the series. At 2-2, the next game will be played in South Beach. “We had them right where we wanted them, but every time we would get a stop, especially in the fourth quarter, we didn’t come up with the rebound,” Chris Bosh said to the press. “It was there for us, but we didn’t capitalize.” And yet, we have to consider that the Miami Heat’s famous big three, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, only went for 14 of 39 from the field. None of the starters had more than 6 rebounds. In a few words: the Heat got their ass handed to them.
The Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra made a couple of adjustments to try to make up for the loss the Heat got in game two in Miami. That time around, despite a phenomenal performance from the franchise mega star LeBron James, the Pacers managed to hold their ground and after two late turnovers by James, they took the win on the road and earned home court advantage. So for a moment there it seemed as if the Pacers were going to be able to show their stuff once the series moved over to Indianapolis for the next two games. Little did we know that Spoelstra would start by putting James at Center and spread the love among his players. At the end, despite not showing amazing numbers from James, Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh, the Heat had a phenomenal team effort to put the game away early in the second half and take a 114-96 crushing of the Indiana Pacers.
With 22 points and 4 rebounds for the night, this could had been categorized as a very weak performance from James. His teammates however, were able to capitalize on the opportunities that he created in the paint as he took the post. It’s a bit unusual to see James playing center, but somehow, his speed and toughness proved a bit too much for the Pacers defense. Dwayne Wade chipped in with 18 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds and Chris Bosh rounded up things for the Big Three with 15 points and 3 boards. “I made a conscious effort to get down in the post tonight, to put pressure on their defense,” James said to the press in the postgame interview. “The coaching staff wanted me to be down there tonight, and my teammates allowed me to do that.”
The Pacer really never had a shot at this game. Miami outscored the Pacers 56-32 on the paint. Credit goes for those numbers, without a doubt, to James playing center. And yet, as a whole, the Pacers struggled greatly defensively. They allowed Miami to shoot 54.5 percent. That’s unacceptable for a team that finished the regular season with the NBA’s best defensive field goal percentage. As if that was not enough, they gave a whole bunch of free throws, and Miami didn’t miss a chance to gain on those infractions. As a matter of fact, the Heat made 24-of-28 free throws last night.
The Pacers gave it what they had, but they ultimately disappointed their home crowd. With the loss, Indiana gave up the home court advantage they so brilliantly fought for in game 2. David West guided the Paces offensive efforts with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Paul George finished with 13 points and eight assists, but it was certainly not even close to what was needed from this team to keep their home record spotless in the postseason. The Pacers know quite well that they need to get a win on game 4 no matter what. Failing to win at home is not going to make the cut in the Playoffs. Not against a team like the Heat.
The Pacers are a low-key, defense-based team that lacks the shine and luster of other bigger and more economically savvy teams in the league. They do not have huge stars, nor players with fantastic endorsement. Sure enough, they do have a very loyal fan base, but other than that, the Pacers are not one of those teams we usually associate with the magic that goes on the NBA. Sure they don’t have players in the All-Star caliber, but heck, with their team-oriented play, their ability to rely heavily on a fortress like defense, the Pacers are proving that despite no one really showing Indiana some love in the regular season, the Pacers are now on the Eastern Conference Finals. Ahead of them, they are going to have to play the defending champions, Miami Heat at South Beach on Wednesday on game 1 of the NBA conference semis.
It didn’t matter much that the Knicks had Carmelo Anthony on the starting five. Sure, Melo is one of the most prolific scorers in the regular season, and he even went far enough to say that if the Knicks needed 50-60 points from him to win the game, he would have to go out there and do it. Now, Anthony would go on to finish the night with an impressive 39 points and 7 assists, despite having to work around a tight defense system. It was not enough and despite a huge effort from New York in the third quarter, the Pacers held their ground and took a 106-99 win at home over the Knicks to earn the Pacers their first trip to the Conference finals since 2004. Oh yeah, with a solid defense, this team is looking as strong as the franchise has looked in the last decade, and hopefully they will have what it takes to give LeBron James and the Heat a good run for their money.
Shooting guard Lance Stephenson guided the Pacers efforts with 25 points and 10 rebounds. “I just didn’t want to go back to New York and play Game 7,” Stephenson said in the postgame press conference. “Just get it done with now and I’d do whatever it takes to do that today. It showed tonight.” Indiana also got some production from their shooting forward Paul George who had 23 points and 21 points and 12 rebounds from their center Roy Hibbert to take the series against the New York Knicks by 4-2. The Pacers got only 8 points from the bench, in what was a very intense and long game for the starters. Now, this is a little something that head coach Frank Voegel is going to have to take into account when going against the Heat.
As of press time, the Heat has an -8 point advantage on the spread for game one of the series against the Pacers at South Beach. The game will kick off at 8pm Eastern Time. No money line has been set yet and until Monday early morning are we going to be able to report on the series price for the Eastern Conference Finals. Sure it’s going to take at least double of what they put on the court to beat the Knicks to step over the Heat. But hey, these guys are young, motivated and have nothing to lose. That’s one heck of a combination. Let´s see what they can bring to the equation down the stretch.