Bearing a striking resemblance to the third quarter from Game 4 of the 2012 semifinals, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to stifle any hope of Indiana taking full control of the series.
Had the dynamic duo not come through then, the Heat would have faced a 3-1 deficit. This time around, it would have been a 2-0 deficit, with 94% of teams previously going on to win series’ when they win the first two games.
Wade and James wouldn’t let that happen. In a critical fourth quarter, which featured Miami outscoring Indiana 25-20, Wade scored ten points on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, while LeBron dropped 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
Norris Cole’s three, off a LeBron assist, with 10:45 left were the only Heat points in the quarter not scored by either Dwyane or LeBron.
Those two alone combined to outscore Indiana in the final frame. And with 7:18 left and the Pacers holding a four-point lead, it became the LeBron James show.
James, who had struggled to score ten points going into the final frame, would score nine consecutive Heat points, and then assist on a Wade dunk to give his team an 80-75 lead with 3:17 left.
For all the early criticism he was bludgeoned with for most of the contest, LeBron still ended with a well-rounded 22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals on 50% shooting. He struggled from beyond the arc, but hit his only three of the night to cut Indiana’s four-point lead to one.
For as much attention as Lance Stephenson received for his five minute stretch of uncharacteristic brilliance, Wade was better, finishing with 23 points on 63% shooting, and also saving his best for last.
Stephenson, who had 23 points going into the fourth, scored two points in the final 12 minutes. You can thank Norris Cole, as well as the law of averages, for that.
Things certainly look your way when the uncontested shots you’re taking are actually falling.
While this wasn’t the case in Game 5 against Brooklyn or Game 1 against Indiana, it was in Game 2, with the Heat converting 58% of their 31 uncontested attempts.
Norris Cole, who finished with 11 points and his both of his three-point attempts, was a perfect 3-for-3 on uncontested shots. Mario Chalmers also hit both of open threes, while Dwyane Wade supported the squad with 4-for-6 shooting on uncontested shots.
Miami’s 40% shooting from three marked the first time they’ve shot better than 34% from three since Game 2 against Brooklyn. Bosh and James combined to shoot 2-for-9, but it was the supporting cast who led the way, with Chalmers and Cole combining to shoot 4-for-4.
Even Shane Battier entered the fray, knocking down one of his two threes.
The Pacers, meanwhile, who shot 60% on uncontested shots in Game 1, were only 41% this time around. David West and Paul George were a combined 4-for-12, while Luis Scola went 0-for-3.
Lance Stephenson and George Hill were the only players to thrive on their open makes for Indiana, going 8-for-14.
Indiana was no better on contested looks, shooting 38%, while Miami shot 44%. However, they still managed to shoot near 50% on 19 three-point attempts, converting on better than 40% of their threes for a second consecutive game.
The Pacers were a middle-of-the-pack shooting team in the regular season. One has to wonder how much they continue to rely on George Hill going 3-for-5, Stephenson going 2-for-4, and Rasual Butler going 2-for-3.
The Heat were a travesty on the defensive boards last night. Although they somehow won the rebounding battle, they were annihilated going after defensive rebounds, and gave up 16 offensive rebounds, including eight alone to Roy Hibbert.
Roy had more offensive rebounds than the entire Heat team. He also had 12 points to go along with his 13 rebounds, furthering the now well-known anomaly of Roy Hibbert going completely insane when he plays the Miami Heat.
Naturally, it was his first double-double of the playoffs, and first since March 21st. The eight offensive rebounds was also a season-high.
But his numbers hardly measured up to that of Chris Andersen’s, who once again proved he deserved more recognition for Sixth Man of the Year. In 29 minutes, Birdman brought down a team-high 12 rebounds, the third-most he had this year.
Although he only scored three points on 1-for-4 shooting, he was a game-high plus-25 and was instrumental, alongside fellow bench member Norris Cole, in Miami’s fourth quarter run.
His 28% rebounding percentage was a game-high, as was his net-rating of 49.3 and defensive rating of 77.4.
In a season where apathy and malaise was a repetitive theme, Birdman has been the lone consistent source of energy, even at the age of 36, the second-oldest on the team behind Ray Allen.
It’s for that exact reason why he shouldn’t start, either. Miami needs that energy off the bench, and also doesn’t need him picking up cheap, early fouls against Roy Hibbert, either.