For as much as the Indiana Pacers, namely one player in particular, are making about the free throw disparity, it may only be a copout of owning up to their mistakes and flaws that continue to get exposed.
The Heat’s offseason rating of 115.3 per 100 possessions against the Pacers, and their top-ranked defense, this series far exceeds the rating they posted up in the regular season.
So, what does the 13.3% have to do with anything? It’s the percentage of points the Pacers scored their points from the mid-range. That includes David West and Luis Scola both having over 30% of their shots come from the mid-range, and Paul George having 8.7% of his points from the same area.
The Heat, meanwhile, only had 9.8% of their points from the mid-range, instead electing to take more of their two-pointers near the basket. Over 29% of their points came from the foul line, where Dwyane Wade scored nearly half his 15 points.
Also, Indiana only had 5% of their points come on fastbreaks, compared to 10% for the Heat.
The Pacers have been talking this season from start to finish, and these accusations of “home-cooking” are not a good look after three consecutive losses. If they blame everyone but themselves, and attempt to play mind games that backfire horribly, they’ll never be able to figure out how to keep LeBron James from shooting above 60%, which he’s done in three of the four games.
The trend of subpar shooting teams hitting their contested shots against the Heat has trudged well into its seventh month.
The Pacers drained 52.2% of their contested shots last night, with Paul George and David West combining to shoot nearly 60% on 22 contested shots. Luis Scola was 4-for-4, George Hill was 3-for-6, and Lance Stephenson was 2-for-5 on a night where they shot 44% on uncontested shots.
Miami managed to best Indiana, though, shooting 55% on contested shots, but failed to hit 40% of their uncontested shots, with Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis combining to miss all 12 of their open looks.
Indiana shot 55% on contested shots in Game 3 and 49% in Game 1. They only struggled in Game 2 when they shot 39%. Remember, this was a team that failed to score a point per minute in a game against the Atlanta Hawks this season.
They’re also shooting 40% from beyond the arc for the series after being a middle-of-the-pack three-point shooting team all season. They shot 41% in their previous season with Washington.
They also have an offensive rating of 105.3 points per 100 possessions this series, which is a substantial improvement from the 101.5 points per 100 possessions they were garnering in the regular season.
These numbers don’t mean much more now, either than it makes the possibility of a three game winning streak by Indiana all the more improbable, once you consider they’ve shot extremely well on tough shots in three out of four games.
You don’t need to see Indiana’s scouting report on Miami to know they have to keep Miami in the half-court as much as possible.
It’s not an indictment on the Heat’s half-court offense, which is arguably the best in basketball, but it’s just more practical to keep them there than to allow them in the open court.
In Game 4, this, not free throws or Frank Vogel’s coaching, was why Indiana lost.
The Pacers gave the Heat 20 points on their 14 turnovers, with Rashard Lewis, who continues to destroy Indiana passing lanes somehow, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade each recording two steals. Indiana, meanwhile, had one steal the entire game.
Miami outscored Indiana 10-4 on the fastbreak.
LeBron James contributed to 11 of those 20 points the Heat got off turnovers, as well as eight of the Heat’s 10 fastbreak points. He has led the forefront of suffocating pressure on ball-handlers in the pick-and-roll, but has had plenty of help from the likes of Rashard, who continued to tip passes intended for Pacer players.
His defense has stepped up to a level we haven’t seen since last year’s postseason run, and it’s been a breath of fresh air from having to hear critics of LeBron’s defense this year.
They’re still allowing David West to beat up on them in the paint and in the mid-range, but the Heat are forcing the Pacers to take the shots they usually miss.
Roy Hibbert returned to his usual non-scoring self in Game 4, while Lance failed to score a field goal until the midway point of the fourth, thanks in part to foul trouble throughout the first half.