Heat 115, Pacers 83 (MIA leads 3-2)
If the Heat left some question marks after Game 4 in Indianapolis, the questions were answered in Game 5. The Heat continued their offensive roll in a 32 point blowout win over the Pacers in Miami. The Big Two went for 58 points on a combined shooting effort of 22-36.
After quoting Danny Granger’s antics on the court as “stupid,” LeBron James and the Heat delivered what may very well be a knockout blow to the Pacers in Game 5. The physicality and intensity of the series lifted up a few notches with the flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough courtesy of Udonis Haslem. Haslem smacked Hansbrough in the face with two hands while “attempting” to block a Hansbrough shot in the first half. In the final seconds of the game, Dexter Pittman closelined Lance Stephenson and sent Stephenson straight to the floor.
Everything started to steamroll downhill when Danny Granger rolled his ankle on a three-point attempt late in the second quarter. He did not return to the game, but his X-rays came back negative. Granger started the game off with a spark, adding 10 points in only 20 minutes. Paul George ended up as the sole player to eclipse Granger’s 10 point mark for the game, tossing in 11 points in 28 minutes.
As has been the case in all Pacer losses vs. the Heat, the Pacers front court failed to dominate the game. David West and Roy Hibbert combined for 18 points and 16 rebounds on the night, a stat that will not win any games against the Heat. West and Hibbert have not owned the paint like they did in Indy’s two wins this series, and their lack of authority has been the difference in the past two games. The Heat out rebounded the Pacers 49-35 in Game 5, an absolutely inexcusable stat for the Pacers especially with Chris Bosh out of the lineup.
I wrote in the Game 4 recap that if LeBron and Wade kept up their stellar play, the series would not need a seventh game. They not only imposed their will on the scoreboard, but the Heat as a team essentially bullied the Pacers all night long with legal and illegal plays. Their two extremely hard fouls drew criticism from fans, but those two plays were not the only physical plays of the event.
The Pacers seemed to back down physically for most of the game, allowing the Heat to run up and down the court with little to no contention. A team with a great deal more depth should not be allowing a team who plays its superstars 44 minutes a game to turn the contest into a track meet and win the track meet. The Heat do not deserve the NBA Championship crown yet, but they have strung together sustained periods of offensive efficiency and defensive intensity. The bottom line is that David West and Roy Hibbert need to step up and take the game into their hands again. They have no excuse not to each go 15 and 10 the next two games. If they continue their 10-points, 5-rebound games, they will finish the season in Indianapolis this week. —Dave Spahn (@DaveSpahn)