Heat 99 – Pacers 87 (Miami leads 2-1)
It took a while for the Heat to get going, but when they did, they were white hot.
The Heat offense struggled in the first quarter, especially in the first nine minutes of the game in which they scored only 5 points to go along with 6 turnovers. They trailed 19-5 with 2:30 remaining in the quarter until Shane Battier nailed a three to end the 5-minute field goal drought.
“We looked like we were stuck in the mud in the first quarter,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That is a big credit to how they [The Pacers] dictated the game. They get you into spots where they want to get you, not where you want to go, and they make it tough for you to get into your game consistently. It was a horrible first quarter. It was good to see us bounce back in the second quarter and show some toughness.”
And they sure did bounce back in the second quarter, and the third quarter, and the fourth quarter.
The Heat shot 9-15 in the second quarter and then 11-for-15 in the third quarter and then 11-for-22 in the fourth quarter, which comes to 31-52 (59.6 percent) in the final three quarters. At one point in the game the Heat had a streak of 10 straight made field goal attempts. Even DWade knocked down a few treys. The Heat finished 10-18 from long range.
Ray Allen made his presence felt once again in the fourth quarter. The Heat pulled away in the fourth, thanks to a barrage of threes from Ray Ray (remember after the fourth one LeBron got super-hyped), and took a 2-1 series lead over the Pacers after the 99-87 win.
“Ray creates so much for our team,” James said. “With his ability to move without the ball and shoot the ball he shifts the defense by himself and it’s great that we have that. He’s always in motion, and so he got it going and we just wanted to continue to find him. I was able to find him for a majority of the shots that he had tonight in the fourth quarter. When you got a hot hand you just keep going to it.”
Paul George led the Pacers with 17 points, but only played 32 minutes after coming off of a concussion in Game 2. George spoke after the game about how it was difficult for him to get into any kind of rhythm out there while being monitored all game by the training staff. Foul trouble also limited his minutes somewhat.
In Game 4 the Pacers will need more of an inside attack from Hibbert and West. The two of them combined for 29 points and just 7 rebounds and no blocked shots. Pacers coach Frank Vogel assured the media that his team is a resilient bunch of guys with a lot of fight left in them, and it’s still too early in the series to worry about the two straight losses.
The Heat will look to remain undefeated at home in the 2014 Playoffs as the two teams meet again on Monday at 8:30. p.m. EST.—Nick Wilke