Having home court advantage, among other things, means you get NBA referees on your side. The Indiana Pacers enjoyed plenty of that preferential treatment to come away with the 84-83 win over the Miami Heat, even though Paul George struggled keeping up with LeBron James.
It’s a team sport after all, and even though James did finish with 38 points, the rest of his team simply didn’t follow his lead. Dwyane Wade finished with 15 points, Chris Bosh was an awful 3-of-11 for 8 points, including air balling the final shot that would have won the game for the Miami Heat.
Of course, LeBron James got the pass off the inbound and decided to give it straight away to Bosh, who pulled up for a contested three. Best decision? Miami ate so much time off the clock in their previous possession which led to Bosh keeping them alive with a 3-pointer to narrow the lead down to one, there wasn’t much time left for anything else.
Some say the Indiana Pacers put too much effort and emphasis on beating the Miami Heat in the regular season. They’re 6-of-7 at home over the last few years in Indiana when hosting the Miami Heat, but even if regular season doesn’t matter as much, having the chance to host game 7 is worth this kind of effort.
Paul George led the Indiana Pacers with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. He did a very good job on offense unlike his previous two meetings with the Heat, scoring 11 points out of his 23 with James guarding him. LeBron smothered him in the first two games between the team, but had a hard time keeping up with George on some possessions, including when George soared for a posterizing dunk after blowing by James.
Roy Hibbert scored 21 points in another dominant performance against the Heat, which included locking down the paint. Miami scored only 10 points in the paint during the second half, while James himself scored 10 points in the paint alone in the first half. He was called for a flagrant foul in the second half for elbowing Hibbert in the face, something that seemed to take him out of his rhythm. Was it a flagrant? Probably not, but that is what home court brings to the table.
Lance Stephenson was ejected in the closing minutes for staring down Dwyane Wade, something Wade knew was going to bring Stephenson his second technical foul of the game. Maybe the NBA is soft and should allow these things to happen, but if consistency matters here, the referees did a good job, even if it meant tossing Stephenson out of the game.
More officiating issues? David West giving the Pacers a 4-point lead came from a travelling violation, moving his pivot foot before launching the three. On the other end, a big three pointer from Dwyane Wade was cancelled for allegedly stepping out of bounds. Replays clearly showed he didn’t, and the Heat, complaining about the officials at the end of the game, had more than one reason to feel like maybe a win was taken away from them.
But it shouldn’t matter to the Pacers. In a tough, rugged, filled with bad intentions playoff-like game, they showed that at home the Heat have no advantage over them. It might not come with the prettiest of basketball and calls for some refereeing intervention, but it won’t matter if this is what helps them make it to the NBA finals.