Where are thou, Chris Bosh? That’s what LeBron James and Dwyane Wade must be thinking to themselves while going over their game 2 loss to the Indiana Pacers. A game they both had a chance to win or tie in the final seconds, but somehow, it all fell on Mario Chalmers taking the final shot.
Before the LeBron bashing begins for his usual un-clutch behavior, Just look at the stat line – 28 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals. Playing 43 minutes for the second time in three days. Playing as Point Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward and Center. He did miss two free throws that might have won the Miami Heat the game, but you can’t minimize an entire basketball game into two shots from the line.
Dwyane Wade, who finished with 24 points, had his big miss of the fourth quarter. Isolated in the paint on George Hill, while the rest of the Pacers were busy covering the spread out Heat. Wade got the spin on Hill, who put on enough of a body to make Wade uncomfortable with his final shot.
And then there was the real final shot. Pacers leading 78-75, Miami have the ball, just over 8 second to go. Mario Chalmers, who was 2-9 from the field and 0-3 from three point range up to that point, got up for the final shot. Not LeBron James, not Dwyane Wade. Chalmers actually got himself a decent look, and was probably even softly fouled by Darren Collison. But CHALMERS?!
I’m all for creativity, but there was none in the Heat’s playbook up to that point. The exhausted Wade and James struggled for points in the half court offense. Paul George and Danny Granger came out to help Roy Hibbert in the paint, getting the hang of it after more than a game of playing the Heat. LeBron James is all for sharing the ball, but Chalmers is a 28% three point shooter in the fourth quarter. Like everyone on the Heat, he was Ice cold on the night.
No one on the Miami Heat team, except for James and Wade, scored more than five points. The 78-75 scoreline was a result of great defense combined with some poorly done offense. Indiana struggled to find good, clean shots. The Heat’s quick defense, which is able to challenge pick n’ rolls and reacts so fast was covering everything. It wasn’t enough.
The Pacers won the game with their transition defense and offensive rebounding. They grabbed 15 of them, including a few big ones in the final quarter. Roy Hibbert, David West and Paul George all finished with double figure rebounding. But the offensive rebounding kept the Heat from fast breaks, scoring only six points on the run. They did create turnovers (17), as Hill and Granger struggled again. But they look fresher than Miami, and were able to bounce back quick enough most times.
But people, as always want blood and heads. They need someone to blame. And as amazing as LeBron James is sometimes, he has to make the free throws. He can’t refrain from shooting the ball for the final 3:35 in the fourth quarter. This was the worst Heat postseason performance since Bosh and James arrived in the 2010 summer.
James isn’t a great free throw shooter in these situations. In fact, Chris Bosh is Miami’s best player in fourth quarters. James is 10-17 this season in the final minute of close games this season from the line. The rest of the Heat are 13-15. The Pacers were terrible in the end as well, only George Hill managing to sink one to give the Pacers a three point separation. But this is the life of being as talented as James, carrying such expectations. Even after doing everything possible for the team during three quarters, it’s never enough.