LeBron James against 5 Indiana players. Five on One, Five on Two. Call it whatever you like, but the bottom line is this – The Indiana Pacers look like a good, strong team. The Miami Heat look like LeBron James, a little bit of Dwyane Wade and a group of random guys not up for the challenge.
The Heat needed someone besides James and Wade to step up. Mario Chalmers did, but his 25 points hardly made any difference. The Pacers concentrated all their defense, aggressiveness and venom on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. James, looking more exhausted by the minute, clocking in another 40 minutes, finished with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Wade? A horrendous performance with 5 points, shooting 2-13 from the field and turning the ball over 5 more times. This, ladies and gentleman, looks like the end of the 2012 playoff run for the Miami Heat.
Is Chris Bosh that good? Are the Indiana Pacers this good? As with everything, a little bit of both. The Pacers are letting the rest of the Heat try and beat them. They can’t. Veterans, young players, outside shooters, big men. There’s just no one who can create points without the help of Wade and James. The Heat dished out only 9 assists on another terrible offensive night – 75 points, shooting 37.2% from the field.
And it seems to be breaking the Heat’s defense as well. No longer keeping the Pacers on low scored. Indiana won 94-75, running away with it after a great first quarter by the Heat. The moment James sat down to take a breather everything collapsed. The Pacers kept the Heat at 29 points in the second & third quarters. West and Granger were in James’ face all game long. Paul George is having a bad series offensively, but he made life very hard for Wade on the other end.
Roy Hibbert is finally dominating. He has less to worry about on defense. Dexter Pittman, Joel Anthony, Juan Howard. They don’t need much worrying about. Hibbert dominated with 19 points and 18 rebounds, making life much more easier for David West (14 points, 9 boards), Danny Granger (17 points) and George Hill, who led the Pacers with 20 points.
There’s no third option for the Heat, and as amazing as Wade and James are, these last two performances cast a lot of doubt not just on this postseason series, but on the future of this team. There’s not a lot to work with in terms of free agency, let alone draft picks. If three stars don’t have anyone to trust when they sit down or get injured, this team isn’t going to win titles. The talk isn’t just of a disappointing end to this season. The talk is about dismantling the whole package if this really ends with the Pacers beating the Heat.
The Heat can’t create points off turnovers as well. Without transition, without anyone stepping up, there’s no chance. The Pacers held the Heat at 38.5% in transition, outscoring them on the fast break throughout the series, something quite unthinkable with the full Heat lineup. James is so worn out from chasing big men around while trying to take an entire offense on his back for 40 minutes, there’s just not much left when the dust settles.
Can they turn this around? Highly unlikely. They might win a game, maybe two more. Even the series. It’ll take some superhuman efforts from James and Wade, who had his worst playoff game since 2004 in Game 3. It doesn’t look like they have too much of those in them. Not when the Pacers are doing such a great job on both of them, knowing very well that there’s no one on the Miami team capable of stepping up.