Indiana Pacers didn’t play their game, let LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have their way

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The Indiana Pacers attained a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Miami Heat largely by playing their game.

Feed the post (center Roy Hibbert, power forward David West) on offense; deny the post and the rim and play aggressive man defense.

The Pacers fell 101-93 to the Heat in Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday because they didn’t play that game.

Now they have to notch another win in Miami if they are to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Pacers seemed to pick up early on where they left off Thursday in their Game 3 victory.

Indiana opened with a 9-0 run, moving the ball efficiently, getting it into Hibbert and creating havoc on the defensive end; the Heat opened with five turnovers and couldn’t hit layups when they were able to get looks underneath the basket.

Foul trouble for both Hibbert and West, however, opened things up in the post for James and Wade. James was spectacular all game long; he went 14-of-27 for 40 points and added 18 rebounds and nine assists. It wasn’t until the third quarter, though, that Wade finally found himself in this series. He scored 14 points in the third period, nearly all of them coming either in the paint or on easy running jumpers. James and Wade scored as many as 37 consecutive points for Miami.

It’s pretty easy to see why the Heat were able to win: the team’s biggest playmakers, James and Wade, made all the big plays down the stretch, and we all know what Miami can do when both superstars play their games.

The big question is what happened to the Pacers?

  • Didn’t go inside enough. Granted, as previously mentioned, Hibbert and West sat on the bench extensively until the final six minutes of play with four fouls each, but the two were far from utilized properly. The two finished with a combined 17 shot attempts — far too few for a tandem so talented and so superior to its Heat counterpart in terms of matchups. Rather, the Pacers attempted 22 3-point shots and converted just seven. Eleven of those attempts came in the first quarter when Hibbert was displaying plenty of potential to own the interior like he did in Game 3.
  • Breakdown on defense. Paul George and George Hill had three and two steals, respectively, but most of them came early in the game when Indiana had gotten off to that hot start. Losing Hibbert and West for the amount of time the Pacers did ultimately proved fatal on the defensive end. Without their big bodies guarding the rim, James and Wade had their way on the attack. The Heat scored 50 points in the paint with largely clear paths to the basket and breakdowns by the Pacers’ wings both on ball and off. George gave Wade fits in the first half as he has done for much of this series — Wade headed to intermission having hit just three-of-10 shot attempts — but once he got going in the third, he and James found the rim from every direction.
  • No answer for … Haslem? The Heat apparently found their best solution for filling the huge gap left by injured big man Chris Bosh. OK, that could be stretching it, but seriously — Haslem could not miss down the stretch. He finished five-of-six and scored 14 points, and a perfect four-of-four of those shots came in the fourth quarter in close-out time. Haslem was able to neutralize Hibbert’s and West’s reentry into the game with his mid-range jumper that couldn’t miss. Whether Haslem’s productivity in this instance becomes a trend or a passing fad remains to be seen, but Pacers coach Frank Vogel needs to do everything he can to make sure it’s the latter if the Pacers plan on advancing.

Suddenly, the pressure is back on the Pacers. This series is now best-of-three with home-court advantage back in Miami’s favor. Indiana will have to grab at least one more win at AmericanAirlines Arena in order to win a series they appeared to have in a stranglehold just a few days ago.

Goes to show what the Heat are capable of when both James and Wade are on their games.

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  1. The Pacers really showed who they truely were Sunday…..not surprised at all about the performance…did’nt go inside enough,well blame this lose on David West….West never took advantage of his mis-match(Shane Battie) struggle getting positions and getting his shot off…and his weak side defense was terrible,coming out high to cut off the pick-n-roll and did’nt rotate back soon enuff,leaving open lanes to the basket for easy lay ups and drunks…we want to blame R.Hibbert when the def breaks down,but West does’nt step up on the inside like you would expect a power forward to do…when West play big…this opens up Hibbert to be more dominant…but Pacers fans,we had a great team with an dis-avantage(Bosh)….they will not let us get on top again!

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