The Heat have something to worry about, despite their impressive second half against the Indiana Pacers. Chris Bosh left the game because of an abdominal injury, and it’s unclear if and when he’ll be back. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made it as if Bosh was hardly missed, outscoring the entire Pacers team in the second half.
LeBron James was expected to come up with something big. Presented with the MVP prior to the match for the third time in his career, James was a bit slow off the mark in the second half but completely took over in the second half and his much criticized final quarter.
How dominant was he? Well, he led the Heat in points, rebounds and assists. He finished 32 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block. He’s the all time leader in postseason games with leading his team in all three categories. But James didn’t get any rest during the last two quarters, and that doesn’t bode well for the Heat, who can’t rely on great games from Wade and James every night.
It’s hard to say the Pacers surprised anyone – being the number 3 team in the conference does carry some expectations, but they gave James and co. a lot of trouble through the first three quarters. Very aggressive, with Roy Hibbert and David West devastating the Heat’s defense and rebounding. James and Wade did a wonderful job on Paul George and Danny Granger, as the two combined for 13 points and 2-15 from the field. Indiana can’t win with those numbers.
Once again, it was about turning up the aggressive knob for James and Miami. Wade did most of the scoring in the first half, and LeBron joined him in the second. They combined to score 42 points in 21 minutes of playing together; the Heat outscored the Pacers by 18 during that 21-minute stretch in the second half.
But it wasn’t only about James and Wade taking it to another level, although it was mostly that. Joel Anthony did a great job offensively, for him, by scoring 9 points and grabbing 7 rebounds, filling in for the injured Bosh. There was no need for anything else. Just great defense and help on the Pacers in the second half, forcing 15 turnovers, 4 of them off of George Hill.
And after surviving game 1, there are plenty of question left, mostly regarding James and Wade. The way this series goes depends on how much they can remain at the level they played in during the second half on both ends of the floor. The aggressive state of mind, trying to score from close range instead of settling for jumpers; The suffocating defense.
If they don’t get the help from around them, they’ll try to win this on their own. But James playing 43 minutes a night will hurt this team in the long run. If Bosh doesn’t come back from his tests with good results, LeBron and Wade will both have to play more than 40 minutes a night just to get through Indiana.
It is possible for Wade and James to go for a combined 60 each and every night. I’m just not so sure it’s the best thing for the Heat, who managed to get by without any significant offensive contribution from their ‘other guys’. James didn’t win the MVP for scoring. He won because of everything he does, but he needs partners, willing partners not called Dwyane Wade, who want him to make them better.