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Monday, May 21st, 2012 at 9:37 am  |  67 responses

Post Up: LeBron Leads Heat

James’ big game helps Miami get even, while the Spurs complete the sweep over the Clips.

Heat 101, Pacers 93 (Series tied 2-2)

For a few minutes, maybe even an hour or two on Sunday afternoon, LeBron haters took a pause and paid respect to one heck of a Playoff performance. Finishing with 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists, LeBron flashed streaks of dominance and imposed his will for parts of the game. His statement became clear; He felt embarrassed after Game 3 and needed to make up for the blowout. “We had a terrible performance in Game 3,” explained LeBron. “We wanted to redeem ourselves. I felt like I needed to be more aggressive.”

Aggressive is one heck of an understatement to describe LeBron’s effort in Game 4. Dwight Howard stands as the only other player in the past decade to score 40 points and grab 18 rebounds in a game in the playoffs. LeBron guarded every position on the floor and rotated offensively to almost every position on the floor. His versatility and dominance showed all night long, especially in the third quarter. Wade and LeBron accounted for 28 points in the third; when in the same time the Pacers entire team dropped 16. Udonis Haslem also aided “The Big Two” down the stretch, netting a couple huge jumpers to kill a Pacers comeback.

The Pacers finished with their normal scoring distribution of four players in double figures after jumping out to a 9-0 lead to start the game. Minus an atrocious third quarter, they played well offensively and kept the Heat on their toes. Danny Granger led the way with 20, and Paul George put together a solid all around performance with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Their lack of production from the front court—18 combined points from Hibbert and West—proved to be the difference in Game 4. Hibbert scored 19 of his own in Game 3 while West scored at least 14 in each of the prior three games of the series.

Quite frankly, the Heat clicked on all cylinders for a while (And by “on all cylinders” I mean Wade and LeBron dominating, with the other guys stepping in when needed.) They showed quick flashes of their basketball ceiling as a team and handled adversity well for a team with a less-than-stellar reputation for fourth-quarter performances. LeBron played like the MVP, Wade showed why he is considered a top 10 player in the league, and everyone else chipped in when applicable. Game 4 is exactly what people envisioned when LeBron decided to “take his talents to South Beach”. They got knocked down in the first half and roared back after recess. They took over the game like superstars do and left no doubt as to who the best players on the court were. The series now becomes a best of three for the Pacers and Heat. If LeBron and Wade charge out of the gate like they finished Game 4, the series will not need the third game. If Roy Hibbert and David West demand more post touches and dominate the paint like the earlier games in the series, we may have a thrilling seven-game series on our hands. —Dave Spahn (@DaveSpahn)

Spurs 102, Clippers 99 (SAS wins 4-0)

Something is not right with Chris Paul. There’s no doubt about it. Perhaps it’s his hip. Maybe it’s his groin. Everyone in his camp—specifically speaking, the Los Angeles Clippers and their training staff, has recently been particularly tight-lipped about his condition. One thing is certain: When it mattered most Sunday night at Staples Center, in the waning moments of Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs, Paul could not deliver in the clutch. Injured or not, his shortcomings, and those of his teammates of course, resulted in a rather embarrassing series sweep at the hands of a clearly superior Spurs squad.

Questions about Paul’s lingering injuries were strategically deflected during the pre-game festivities, as expected. When the locker rooms opened up about an hour-and-a-half before the game, clear-cut answers about his status were hard to come by. Similarly, during the post-game news conference, the topic was avoided. No one was coming clean about Paul or his health. It didn’t matter how much poking prodding was performed by multiple members of the media. No one was talking.

Prior to the final few sequences of Sunday’s game, some credit was deserved. Paul did play well, after all. His 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and pair of steals were clear indications that he still had some pep in his step. His layup off the top of the backboard (a three-point play) late in the fourth quarter gave the Clippers and their fans a fleeting glimpse of hope.

The last two times Paul touched the ball in Sunday’s game, however, resulted in a turnover and missed shot in the lane on a short but challenged jumper. With a clean bill of health, he finds a way to get that shot to fall. Paul has done so in the past, mind you. Thing was, he didn’t have any lift left in his legs. The expression on his face, one of disappointment and exhaustion, told the story as he attempted to make his way to the locker room without causing a commotion. Easier said than done.

In terms of placing the blame on someone, Paul is not entirely at fault. There are plenty of fingers to be pointed in the direction of everyone from Lob City. To that end, the Spurs are about as well-rounded a unit as there is in the League right now. From top to bottom, their lineup is stacked. Truth be told, the Clippers didn’t stand of much of chance from the start. Nevertheless, at some point, Paul must answer questions about his health. As it stands now, we must assume that he was hurting quite a bit more than he let on. How else to explain the Clippers complete collapse in this series? —Sean Ceglinsky (@seanceglinsky)

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  • Zabbah

    Awesome performances. I’m getting wet just thinking about a Heat/Spurs Finals.

  • LouisVuittonDon

    that run wade and lebron put together in the 3rd quarter was amazing

  • http://www.borntocompete.com Money$hot

    40-18-9 that’s a hell of a stat line. But, if u have to produce those kinds of numbers just to win, that is going to be tough to maintain!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Dagger

    “Dwight Howard stands as the only other player in the past decade to score 40 points and grab 18 rebounds in a game in the playoffs.” Yes, but he had 1 assist. The last person to score 40+ with 18+ boards and 9+ rebounds? Elgin Baylor. Now, much attention will deservedly go to the superstars, but the Heat don’t win yesterday’s game without some huge plays from Joel Anthony, Battier’s shockingly effective defence on West, and – obviously – Haslem’s clutch shots. Beyond Lebron’s aggression and Wade’s revival, that’s why the Heat won last night. If the role players can at least limit the bleeding in the frontcourt, grab a few key boards and hit some clutch shots, Lebron and Wade can do the rest. One last point: Wade had a great game in the second half, but it’s been a long time since a top-5 player has added so little to his game over the years. Seriously, what has he added since his championship? A consistent three-point shot from Wade would go a long, long way right now.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    ‘Video Game James’ was unreal last night. Even if I never saw the stats, you know you were watching great basketball last night.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    cosign dagger. I would just like to also add that Lebron and wade have officially learned to play off each other in the half court. That my-turn your turn stuff? over. Look at how easy Lebron and wade set each other up.. scoring off of cuts etc…this is terrifying for the rest of the league.. and if bosh comes back early and the role players can continue to be consistent…

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    Lebron and Wade just dropped over 70 points and assisted on 16 others against an elite defense keyed on in stopping them and anchored by an 7’3 all-star big man. INCREDIBLE.

  • HAMMER

    People always looking for excuses for the so-called “best point guard in the league”.
    Give credit to where credit is due.

  • Paps77

    Chris Paul, Chris Paul, Chris Paul. Whatever. Spurs destroyed them and everyone taks about Chris Paul. How about Duncan being one of the best players ever. Ever!

  • whooo!

    The whole recap of the spurs seeping the clippers sounded like a backhanded compliment meant to did the spurs. How else could Chris Paul miss the last 2 possessions? Cuz everyone in the building knew he was gonna take the shout and it was an iso 1vs5! and let’s not even start on the flawless execution for the spurs big 3. The clippers need miracle one on one efforts to score, and the spurs were getting wide open layups in the clutch. Credit where credit is due

  • whooo!

    Damn, autocorrect on my phone totally butchered my post…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I think most people expected the Spurs to destroy them. Which is why I wanted the Grizzlies to win that series. Grizz vs Spurs would have been a much better series. I didn’t watch a single game of the Clippers vs Spurs because it was a pointless endeavor.
    I don’t think Bron has to that ever time for the Heat to win. That was a different sort of game. Wade struggled early, which forced Bron into Beast Mode immediately. It was impressive to watch him do that. I assume that’s just too much for him to handle on a regular basis, but watching him flip the switch was crazy. If he could flip that switch all the time, well, damn.
    Haslem finally hit the shots he has hit his entire career, but no one else on the Heat could shoot or defend Darren Collison. They have to hope that his game doesn’t travel, and they have to figure out where Miller, Battier, Jones and Chalmers left their jump shots.

  • LA Huey

    Did Wade and Bron just figure it out or did Vogel “pull a Spoelstra” with an inability to make in-game adjustments? Anyone else think the off-the-ball screening action to get Wade and Bron great inside position was too simple to have been that effective? Maybe losing Bosh for a bit was a blessing in disguise to force these cats to figure it out.

  • LA Huey

    Norris Cole was out there making rookie mistake after rookie mistake. The blocking foul, not stopping the fast break by fouling early, another blocking foul…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Yeah, but he was attacking the hard hedge better than Chalmers, and handling the Pacers pressure better by not picking up his dribble too early. He’s a better finisher at the rim, and better and making decisions about when to pass. But he can’t shoot and does dumb stuff and isn’t a great defender.
    So basically Spoelstra is screwed. You play Chalmers, who can’t shoot, gets stupid offensive fouls, and regularly has mind boggling turnovers or you play Cole who can’t shoot, sucks on defense, and makes general bad decisions.

  • JoeMaMa

    The Spurs are taking the title. Mark my words. They haven’t lost in over a month. They’re all healthy, rested, and they’re by far the best TEAM in the league. The Spurs are taking the title, friends.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    cp3 wasn’t playing the spurs smh. he was playing a system. a brutally effective, versatile system that his non-defending teammates and hyper incompetent coach really couldn’t help him conquer. plus he was playing it injured. that’s how I think about it. no way tony parker beats a fully healthy cp3 4 times in a row. if paul was healthy they would’ve at least gotten a game off them.

  • Mike Mihalow

    What’s wrong with Chris Paul? He’s overrated, and raised everyone’s expectations of him.

  • LA Huey

    I like Norris’ ceiling better than Chalmers but he’s awful right now. Chalmers is a above average 3 pt shooter, solid defender, that likes to foul jump shooters. Cole can get into the lane without a pick, can run a fast break, but hasn’t finished at the rim since early January.
    They both make infuriate me with rookie mistakes though. Problem for ‘Rio is he should have got that out of his system two years ago.

  • http://Slamonline.com Datkid

    SMH I hate the spurs. OKC can take them.

  • LA Huey

    I a Seattle NBA fan. I hate the Thunder. I hope my dude Duncan and his guys take them.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    LeBron was phenomenal yesterday and no one I repeat no can hate on him and if you do then you need to check yourself. He did everything yesterday. It’s also funny LeBron made passes to the post to Wade when he was being fronted yet no one on the Lakers can? As a Laker fan I’m glad the Clippers are gone. Lot of ice was used last night for all those sprained ankles from fans jumping off the bandwagon.

  • bike

    If LeBron can continue that kind of performance…well, then LeBron has the potential to be the G.O.A.T.

  • IndyB

    Hats off to Lebron and Dwade. Incredible game from them. If the Pacers are going to compete they have to keep those 2 off of the boards. 27 rebounds from the other teams starting wings is demoralizing. Hibbert and West need to stay out of early foul trouble so that they can stay aggressive on the defensive end.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    So, now y’all see why I had the Spurs in 4?
    .
    Also, am i the only person who actually lost confidence in Miami last night?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I agree with you Huey. I don’t understand how Chalmers keeps doing this, and since his jumper is back to being incredibly streaky, he bothers me more.

  • LA Huey

    IndyB, I know your pain about keeping guys off the boards (but rooting from the other side). So many Hibbert and West rebounds from guys just not putting a body on their defender. I did appreciate Psycho T doing his best Joel Anthony impression on those two gimmies where he shuffled his feet before shooting.

  • http://nba.com GP23

    Yep, Video Game James.. dude is unreal!.
    Oh, and Hubie Brown is the best announcer in sports. You learn so much just listening to his analysis.

  • LA Huey

    nbk, we’ll have to see how good a coach Vogel is in adjusting to Wade and LBJ playing NBA Jam against his 5 and if LeBron keeps attacking. LeBron reminded me of that game against the Nets this year where he just kept getting to the rack. And Miami did get 30 from the supporting cast (half of that being Haslem) so that’s encouraging.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Lebron put up great numbers but Wade impacted the game more IMO.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    See, for as dominant as Wade and LeBron were, they only won by 8.
    Dwyane Wade was unreal for 3 quarters. Absolutely unreal. I don’t know if he can be THAT good for 2 of the next 3 games.
    .
    Do I still think Miami will win this series? Yes.
    Am I confident in that feeling? Not at all.

  • LA Huey

    For the record, I lean towards the Pacers taking it in 7. If the Heat win this, it’ll be because they got some steady play from someone other than Wade and James. Can’t see it happening 2 more times.

  • everything

    @nbk why did you lose confidence in the heat?

  • TheWhiteMarkPrice

    Co-sign nbk, Miami won playing 2 on 5. I think West and Hibbert’s bad showing was an anomolly. West will be looking to impose his will in game 5. Miami has had serious trouble staying in front of Darren Collison. Without more of a solid TEAM effort Miami is still in trouble.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    NBK
    Reasonable point. But, here is what I thought when I first thought like you.
    1. One, Wade was horrible initially, his funk carried over to the entire team, and no one but LeBron came to play.
    2. Haslem hit jumpers. That has been a huge missing part of Miami’s offense.
    3. Role players play better at home. Possibly Chalmer, Miller and Battier will hit more shots in Miami.
    4. Voegel tried small ball. I don’t know why he went with that three guard lineup. It had some success, but that feels like fool’s gold when Bron and Wade are looking for a reason to post up.
    Here are reasons why your lack of confidence was justified.
    1. No way can LeBron play with that sort of intensity for three more games.
    2. If the reports about Wade’s knee are true, does that continue to be an issue.
    4. Haslem might be a mirage, and Miami still has yet to find a perimeter player who can hit a jumper. Plus, Mike Miller appeared to be in serious pain.
    5. Indiana’s attack has incredibly variety and the Heat did not show a good ability to stop dribble drives. Indiana missed some makeable shots down the stretch.
    6. Collison killed and he didn’t do it in a difficult way. Plus Voegel clearly sat West and Hibbert too long because of fouls.
    So, basically, the series is completely up for grabs. And I have very little confidence that the Heat can beat the Celtics in a series.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Allen, see it’s number 3 on the optimistic (for the Heat side) that makes me believe that the Heat will still win the series.
    .
    But numbers 2, 4 (you forgot 3 lol) and, 5 on the other side are why I have lost confidence.

  • TheWhiteMarkPrice

    Im with ya Allen, if they get past Indy, they are so banged up Boston would feast on Miami trying to go 2 on5 like yesterday.

  • TheWhiteMarkPrice

    Paul Pierce is more dynamic than Granger, so LBJ would have to give more effort on the defensive end, one on one, than he does against Indy.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    It’s unfortunate, but injuries are part of the game. Last year Boston fans lost Rondo while going against Miami. The year before they lost Bynum. The Spurs lost Manu last year. The Grizzlies lost Rudy Gay. The Lakers lost Bynum a few years back. Haslem was coming off an injury last playoffs.
    Rose is out this year. So was Dwight. It’s a weird playoffs.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Sorry, not Bynum, Perkins. Got my petulant big men mixed up.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Btw wtf is up with Granger? I understand sticking up for your teammates and not backing down but when you’re the one starting sh*t all the time it gets old. First it was with LeBron in MIA then he flipped out on him in Indy and yesterday against Wade. David West is more of an OG but you don’t see him barking. If anything he’s more of a savvy vet.

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    SLAM, you guys need to post that video of the boy Jay Pharoah killing Screamin A. Smith on SNL its the only funny thing they’ve done in years.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    That Stephen A Smith segment was hilarious for real.

  • T-Money

    Allen: the solution to stopping Collison, you go really big and put Bron on him like they did to George Hill at the end of the game. With Rio sucking and Miller hurting, the closing lineup is Bron, Wade, Battier, Haslem and Anthony.

  • LA Huey

    T-Ray, he either thinks he’s getting into their heads or just overcompensating for something.

  • Fat Lever

    How about that little floater Lebron has added recently. Not anywhere near Tony Parker, but it’s proven to be very effective.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    I guess so Huey buts it’s getting annoying but it was funny when Wade was like you soft man lol and cosign Fat that floater isn’t as pretty but it gets the job done instead of just barreling your way to the rim.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Can LeBron duplicate Game4s performance every game? No but he can come cose to matching that same intesity and willingness to attack the rim at all cost. As long as he continues hitting the boards (offensive/defensive) and doesn’t shy away from going to the line, MIA will win this series.

  • T-Money

    It was hilarious when james jones forgot he was james jones and tried to bang on 3 dudes. Alsp, danny granger: we dont believe you, you need more peo-ple.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    Well, I think LeBron CAN duplicate his performance, I’m not saying he will but he’s more than capable. Check out his stats in the Orlando series, I believe he was averaging 38, 8, 8 in the first 5 games of that series.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I thought Miami had a lot of success when it put Wade at the point and told him to handle the ball handling. Using LeBron to move along the baseline was causing all sorts of problems. When he catches right there it’s curtains for most smaller players.

  • Ill Smith

    Aight 1st things 1st, gotta give Bron his props. Can’t kill him when he loses & not give props for the W, son was wreaking havoc all over the Pacers. BUT, I still dont think the series has shifted back in their favor. Let’s say he & DWade can’t replicate that type performance again? What if Haslem goes back to missing jumpers? What if Wade blacks out, puts Spo in a headlock during a timeout next game & decides he’s Miami’s new player-coach? Too many questions, not enough answers.

    Oh & for you Chris Paul fans, ya boy got iced up this last series. Just so yall know. Tell him come meet Melo in the Big Apple so they can both get that playoff success they deserve (& get my boy out the 1st round!)

  • LA Huey

    Thanks for reminding me of that James Jones’ comedic relief.

  • mishko

    lol jazz in 7 you said ? haha

  • http://nba.com GP23

    Haha.. Jay Pharoah nailed that Stephen A impression. Hilarious.

  • shutup

    That SNL sh!t had me rolling

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    SNL is the worst show ever created and that didn’t even sound like Stephen A

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    you realize it’s a parody right? it’s not supposed to be just like him, at all. It’s supposed to be a major exaggeration. Just like all the comedy on SNL.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    It was funny not his best though. His Chris Tucker, Denzel, Katt Williams and Will Smith are waaaaay better. Oh and Eddie Murphy.

  • Feez_22

    For lebron, what can I say? Dudes a beast. He won’t need to replicate 40-18-9 but may need a couple or a few 30-10-6 games… No biggie for the MVP ESP since he hardly took any jumpers yesterday. As a fan of chris Paul, I have seen Chris owned like this before. Excuses aside (since a lot of players play injured), San antonio played Chris just like denver did in 09. Denver put Dahntay jones mainly on Chris and collapsed on him when he drove. The spurs did the Sam with green and Kahwi. The difference in this series though was honestly systems though. The clippers defense was pathetic rotating defensively. Utterly pathetic. The spurs are a gr8 passing team but cmon now… You have to rotate. Secondly, while te spurs were halfcourt executing, the clips either ran PNR (with foye and butler clanking shots all series which therefore led to the spurs collapsing with no hesitance), Blake postups (which were null until game 3) or 1 on 5. Chris was really bad this series. However Tony also didn’t play well either so I guess you have to give his defense some credit. I just think system wise, the clippers failed. Easy to say after the fact but if the clippers knew how to rotate defensively this series would be 2-2 right now. Fire Vinny Now.

  • LA Huey

    CP3 vs the Spurs was just more proof that basketball is TEAM sport and winning is a TEAM accomplishment. San Antonio downgraded the best player in the series to the 2nd best performer on his team.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    CP3 is hurt, he’s been hurt. Gotta a pulled groin. I don’t know why that isn’t being highlighted more….

  • http://sdfjklc.com Jukai

    Miami scored about 20 points in one quarter off one play by using a guard to off-ball screen along the wing and have Wade/Lebron curl off and get into the paint being guarded by a smaller player. That was one play.
    I’m kind of worried Vogel isn’t going to let his team fall for that again.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Dagger

    I’m sorry, but injuries can’t just be ignored. Even a sprained ankle will limit your effectiveness, let alone a pulled groin and, what was it, a hyperextended hip? Sure, many players are playing through injuries right now, but clearly some are more damaging than others, and often the impact depends on what kind of game the player uses.

  • http://slamonline Brion

    You gotta roll with Joel Anthony to start for now on..he battles hard for an under sized center. He was huge in that game.

  • http://sdfjklc.com Jukai

    Joel Anthony was huge in game 4 but one of the big reasons they got reemed so bad in games 2 and 3… so… dunno about giving him too much props.

  • Trippledribble

    Anyone remembers the last play pass Lebron handed to Haslem vs. Utah? He trusted his teammate with the shot in a rather meaningless regular season game, which is why he is knocking down important 4th quarter jumpers in the playoffs. Keeping your less talented role players confident by playing the right way pays off, that’s why I like lebron.
    And great discussion so far.

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