When you have a guy who can do stuff like this:
and another guy who can do things like this:
playing without your third best player suddenly doesn’t seem as bad as you thought.
Not when you have Dwyane Wade pouring in 41 points on 24 shots and grabbing ten boards. Not when you have LeBron James chipping in a pedestrian 28 points, seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and only one turnover in 45 minutes. Not when you get 27 combined points and seven combined three-pointers between Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers.
In the end, it was the Heat winning game 6, and the series, 105-93 in front of a raucous Indiana Pacers crowd that started to lose its edge by the end of the third quarter, after a 9-0 Heat run in the final two minutes.
The run turned a one-point game into a ten-point lead going into the fourth following a Chalmers three-pointer at the buzzer.
Indiana had no answers whatsoever in the fourth. Every rally they attempted was stamped out by the constant drives of Wade, who was able to attack the rim at will for the third consecutive game. The Pacers threw numerous defenders at Wade, but his ability to constantly split the double-team at the top of the perimeter was a death sentence for Indiana who didn’t have near the speed to keep up with Wade.
Dwyane had 26 of his 41 in the first half, just enough to keep the Heat in it against a Pacers team that shot 59 percent in the first half. Eventually, Indiana came back to earth and shot 49 percent for the game. Wade, however, continued his onslaught of points with a number of key floaters in the fourth quarter to keep any Pacer comeback at bay.
Right from the start, you could tell that this was going to be a vintage Wade performance. It feels weird saying that, but you really haven’t see Wade perform as well as he has in the past this season. With various ailments plaguing him throughout the regular season and following an awful game 3 where he scored five points on 13 shots, it was being talked about that Wade’s career could actually be going downhill.
Wade responded with a rousing “Fuck you” to those doubters. Following game 3, Wade scored 99 points on only 65 shot attempts. He has shot at least 57 percent in each of the three games, converted at least ten made field-goals and recorded 22 rebounds just for good measure.
Is this all a result of a simple knee draining? To to be honest, it actually could be. Wade looked sluggish throughout the Heat’s first-round series against the Knicks and didn’t appear to be himself through the first three games against Indiana, either. Since draining his knee, however, Wade has brought about memories of the 2006 NBA Finals Wade and the player who won a scoring title only three years ago.
When Dwyane is attacking, hitting the mid-range jumper and banking in shots, he shows you why he’s arguably the best player in the league still. Wade saw the majority of his points come near the paint, with many of them coming off of post-ups against the Pacers inexperienced, weaker defenders.
Paul George, Dahntay Jones and George Hill all received a considerable dose of Vitamin D.
Oh, that LeBron James guy was damn good, too. 28 points, seven assists and six rebounds is normal for James by this point, especially with the way he’s played recently. Even though he wasn’t as prolific on the boards as he could have been, James still played the role of facilitator to perfection and converted two key baskets in the waning minutes to close the game.
However, Dwyane played so good that there were instances where you didn’t even realize LeBron was on the floor.
James did his usual destruction of the Pacers offense and defense. He made Danny Granger a non-factor after the studio gangster had nine points in the first quarter–he finished with 15 for the game–and went to work in the second half after a slow first half where he probably took a few more jump shots than he should have.
For those asking–yes, Danny Granger did walk off the court without shaking anybody’s hand. David West, who finished with 24 points and should be very proud that he scored over Shane Battier, was also left out of the postgame festivities as he and Granger went back to their lockerroom to take an ice bath to cool down their bruised and battered egos.
The Pacers fanbase should be clamoring for the head of Danny Granger at this moment. Despite talking an incredible amount of trash before and during the series, Granger was an incredible disappointment. Averaging only 13 points on 37 percent shooting, while allowing LeBron to do whatever he pleased wasn’t the right plan for Granger to create.
It was a clever idea by Granger to attempt to get in the head of LeBron, but since he persisted, all he did was just annoy LeBron and the Heat to the point where they had to deliver beatings like in game 5.
But back to greatness. It wasn’t all just LeBron and Dwyane on Thursday as they had plenty of support from Mario Chalmers–who had an excellent series–and MIKE FUCKING MILLER.
That’s right; the guy who shuffles around the court like an extra from ‘Dawn of the Dead’ hit four three-pointers, including two that brought the Heat back in the game after facing a ten-point deficit in the second quarter. He also hit a three-pointer near the end of that run the Heat had in the third quarter, which essentially put the Pacers away.
Besides Wade and James piloting the Flying Death Machine and outscoring the entire Pacers starting lineup by themselves, a huge key to the Heat winning this series has been the help from the bench. Miami has needed a role player or two to step up and make up for Bosh’s absence and the Heat have been fortunate enough to find that at the perfect time.
Udonis Haslem had a huge impact in game 4, Shane Battier followed that up with an excellent game 5 and Chalmers and Miller finished it off in game 6. It’s truly incredible how volatile and dangerous this Heat team is when the role players are getting in on the action by making wide-open jump shots.
‘The Heatles’ have their George, Paul and John; they just need somebody to step up and be Ringo for a night.
While the Pacers offense was unusually efficient against the Heat on Thursday, they doomed themselves with 20 turnovers.
When you have 20 turnovers against the Heat, this is what happens a lot:
Indiana kept throwing the ball away–there were three plays where they literally threw the ball out-of-bounds–and the Heat kept taking advantage. By committing a playoff low nine turnovers, the Heat didn’t allow Indiana to have any clear-cut advantage at any aspect of the game. Miami forced Indiana to work in the half-court and the pressure eventually proved to be too much by the second half.
The Pacers went into the half shooting 59 percent and were only up by two points. You’re absolutely insane if you thought Indiana was going to maintain that hot shooting for another 24 minutes. Not only will the jump shots stop falling, but the Heat’s defense will turn up to another level and will inevitably make your team look softer than the mask Larry Bird has worn to every game.
That’s exactly what ended up happening. Miami continued to attack, while the Pacers were reduced to taking contested jumper after contested jumper. Believe it or not, contested jumpers aren’t the way to win a game thus the reason why Indiana ended up losing.
That, and not being able to have an answer for the Heat’s two main culprits of delivering large falice’s into the waiting orifices of shit-talking opponents everywhere. It’s baffling how team-after-team will attempt to talk smack before a series against the Heat and expect that to be the key to their victory. Not playing physical, but talking is going to win a seven-game series.
All that talk means nothing now. Pacers coach Frank Vogel is eating a floppy member at this moment and is going to be under heavy scrutiny for not getting Roy Hibbert involved in the final two games of the series.
Hibbert stands at 7’2″ and was being defended by the 6’9″ Ronny Turiaf, 6’9″ Joel Anthony and a forgettable instance where he was defended by Dexter Pittman for the entire series. He failed to score over 20 points and had 30 points in the final three games of the series. He attempted only eight shots in the final game and ended up scoring a mere 12 points to go along with a disappointing eight boards.
This is where coach Erik Spoelstra’s coaching wizardry comes into place. The guy couldn’t coach an offense if there was a loaded gun to his head, but the guy knows how to run some impressive defense and it’s what helped the Heat win this series.
By fronting Hibbert and having a second defender apply pressure every time an entry pass was made confuddled the Pacers and Vogel had zero answers. Instead of getting it inside to Hibbert, the Pacers decided to take ill-advised jumpers and get it into David West whenever Shane Battier received one of West’s patented forerarm shivers to get open.
I don’t care what anybody says, the Pacers should be extremely disappointed with the result of this series. Forget that talk of feeling good for the underdog, Indiana had a legitimate chance to win this series and fudged it up by continuing to talk, delivering cheap shots and not finding a way to get Hibbert consistently involved.
Overall, Indiana was beaten by two players. All the credit in the world goes to Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Juwan Howard, Dexter Pittman, James Jones, but the Heat aren’t winning this series unless Wade and James found a way to play together as teammates.
70; 58; and 69. Those are the combined point totals of Wade and James in the final three games of the series. Miami doesn’t win game 4 without James going off for 40 points and 18 boards and they’re not winning game 6 without Wade having 41 points and 10 boards. Game 5 was as complete an effort as you’ll see from this team.
It’s a beautiful thing to see these two finally work together. This must be what it’s like to see unicorns breed; or the aurora borealis making love to a double rainbow; or finding your phone, wallet and keys after a ravenously drunken night. This is exactly what Pat Riley envisioned when he signed those two and Bosh in the summer of 2010.
Losing Bosh may have been a blessing in disguise for this team. Instead of relying on their talent to aid them in victory, they relied on each other. There weren’t any nonsensical LeBron isolation plays while Dwyane idly stood by in the corner; it was actual team basketball being played for the first time in a long time.
Stunning to think what this team can do. And the fact that they did it without Chris Bosh, who only provides 18 points and eight rebounds on average, is a staggering fact that should have the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers attempting to drop game 7 just so they could stave off the embarrassment of playing against an actual duo.
For now, we’ll just revel in one of the most satisfying playoff victories in Heat history. There really is no better satisfaction in the world than shutting the mouth of your opponents via a cockmeat sandwich.
Stats that make your heart stop:
- LeBron and Dwyane finished with 197 combined points in the final three games; Indiana’s entire starting lineup finished with 184.
- Dwyane Wade and LeBron James averaged 33 ppg and 32.7 ppg respectively in the final three games.
- The Pacers were a +26 when Roy Hibbert was on the floor, compared to the Heat being +65 when Hibbert was off.
Credit to ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh for the stats