If the Miami Heat think that they lost game 4 because of referees, they need to check again. LeBron James was absent for large chunks of the night, spending too much time guarding David West and Roy Hibbert on one end, not having enough energy to be dominant consistently on the other, dragging the entire team and their offensive fluidity down along with him.
Joey Crawford is a referee who comes to steal the show, there’s no doubt about it. Outrageous calls and time stalling. He loves the prime-time, and was wrong in the offensive foul call he whistled on James with the Pacers leading by 4, with 56 seconds left in the game, but that’s not why the Heat lost 99-92, going back to Miami with things all tied up.
They lost because they couldn’t generate the quick ball movement they had in the previous game, looking lethargic and predictable too often over the course of the game, shooting only 39% from the field, and finding it very hard to score in the paint (only 32 points), even if Roy Hibbert was very reactive to everything Udonis Haslem (6 points, 3-of-5 from the field) or Chris Bosh (1-of-6, 7 points and a tweaked ankle) tried to do from mid-range.
It was simply a rough night for their decision making, which was all over the place. James was double teamed in the post, and he still tried to make things happen, finishing with 1-of-6 on those plays, and 24 points overall in the game, 12 of them from three pointers straight on the head of Paul George. Dwyane Wade was a complete mess, as his weird travelling call late in the game with the Heat chasing down the deficit put an exclamation point on.
Wade scored 16 points but on 5-of-15 from the field, and looked awkward every time he drove to the basket. It wasn’t his knee that looked like it was bothering him, but simply being outside his comfort zone, even though he got close-range shots he usually makes on normal days. Things just wouldn’t fall in, and Wade didn’t try to make things work in a different way by trying to play smarter.
The Heat did OK on the offensive glass, finishing with 12 rebounds, but just couldn’t get points in the paint. Chris Andersen played 19 minutes, but was nowhere near as effective as in the previous games, not taking a single shot and being a lot less effective in his defending as well. While Mario Chalmers looked like one of the few who had no trouble driving to the basket and trying to initiate contact (scoring 20 points, going 8 times to the line), the Heat seemed to be tired of a physical bout for once, not looking to score from close range, or not willing to do enough work to make it happen.
Ray Allen had another night he wishes to forget, and his ability in the postseason so far makes you wonder if the Heat were wrong to bring him along for the ride. He was only 4-of-13 from the field, taking bad shot after bad shot, not to mention a couple of very silly turnovers on a night the Heat lost the ball in only 6 times.
James was having a very hard time guarding David West and sometimes even Roy Hibbert during the game. Even when his presence did allow the Heat to get stops, it left too much room for the Pacers to grab offensive boards, as the buffer James often provides in mid-range was gone.
The Heat’s turn to adjust is now. They weren’t far from winning this game if it wasn’t for a couple of bad decisions by Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, while Chris Bosh couldn’t have been worse. But the eyes, as usual, turn to LeBron James, to provide the kind of performance that needs to be coming for the Heat to feel a lot more comfortable about their chances to make the Finals.