Heat beat Pacers

For the first time in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat played a complete game as the better team, leading from the first moment and eventually winning 102-90 thanks to a great start by Chris Bosh and another overall fantastic performance from LeBron James, which means they’re now 3-1 up in the series against the Indiana Pacers, resorting to excuses about referees after an abysmal performance from both Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson.

This might have been the best offensive performance we’ve seen from the Heat in the playoffs, and especially against the Pacers all season long. They even went to sleep as they slowed things down to a halt in the fourth quarter, allowing the Pacers to come back and make the game seem closer than it was, but with a 122.6 points per 100 possessions efficiency ratio, it was hard to ask them for anything more on the offensive side of the ball.

Chris Bosh got hot early to finish with 25 points. He hit open shots which led to a lot of opportunities for him to attack the basket, unlike previous games. The Heat didn’t mind him missing shots earlier in the series, trusting his ability to bounce back. That confidence was repaid, as Bosh also shot 8-of-10 from the line, although despite the angle the Pacers are trying to play, Indiana still lead the Heat in free throws taken through the four games.

Chris Bosh, LeBron James

Bosh had freedom to take uncontested jump shots as Roy Hibbert had one of those games again, finishing with 0 points and not getting a single decent look at the basket, finishing with 0-for-4 from the field. Hibbert looked lost on offense, making all the wrong spots and screening lazily for other players as the Pacers found themselves behind by 23 points in the fourth quarter before a late run that slightly changed the perceived outcome. Hibbert has become a problem for the Pacers, as Miami have outscored the Pacers by 41 over the last 3 games with him on the court.

LeBron James took over in the third quarter, hitting open shots on the catch-and-shoot while the Heat started doing a lot better in transition, scoring 20 points off of Pacers turnovers. James finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in another superbly efficient game with 13-of-21 from the field, 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and 4-of-4 from the line, making up for a less than effective night from Dwyane Wade, who scored 15 points on 4-of-12 from the field.

A lot of eyes were on Lance Stephenson for what he said about LeBron James. After the game Paul George said Stephenson needs to probably think a bit more about what he says, before going off on a stupid remark of his own. Stephenson didn’t score any points in the first half finishing with 9 in the game, most of them coming in that late run during the fourth quarter, with Paul George (23 points) leading the way. He was beaten on both ends of the floor, and looked like someone  who can’t live up to his big talk, although with Stephenson, it’s always good game, bad game, and always has been.

The Heat keep making adjustments – the Rashard Lewis move seems to be a stroke of genius. He isn’t just completely disrupting David West but is quick enough and smart enough to jump into passing lanes and make the right decisions when it comes to double teams. He might look quite awkward when he shoots, not scoring a single point in both games, but the Heat are +35 during his time on the floor over the last two games.

The Pacers might look broken and disjointed but they’re not. This is simply their way of looking when they’re awful. The problem is that they might be getting desperate, as they’re getting nothing from their bench except for some points from Luis Scola that didn’t matter, and can’t compete when two players in their starting five simply don’t show up. The Miami Heat are fluid and fresh, and for the first time in the series, looked like the best team from tip off to the final buzzer.

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