Miami Heat's Game 2 Implosion vs. Pacers Stems from Lack of MVP Leadership

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 15: Joel Anthony #50, Mario Chalmers #15, LeBron James #6, Shane Battier #31, and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat talk during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena on May 15, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In a game that should have been salvaged by at least one of two superstars, there wasn't an MVP to be found in American Airlines Arena Tuesday night.

The Miami Heat came up just short against the Indiana Pacers in a messy 78-75 Game 2 loss that head coach Erik Spoelstra and the rest of South Florida are eager to forget.

This club's best players have taken more than their share of the credit for Miami's success, and they should take their share of the blame for this one.

When the game was on the line, three-time MVP LeBron James hardly looked the part. The Associated Press' Tim Reynolds runs down the final moments:

James had a chance to give Miami the lead with 1:22 left, but his shot was blocked from behind by George, who was fouled two seconds later. He missed both free throws, keeping the Indiana lead at 76-75. And after Wade missed a jumper, James was fouled by Granger—his sixth—battling for the rebound with 54.3 seconds remaining.

James couldn't connect on either, and the Heat didn't score again.

Wade went on to miss a layup with 16 seconds remaining, and the rest is history. The Heat might be too if LeBron and his loyal sidekick aren't up to the challenge of winning games without Chris Bosh in the lineup.

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 12:  Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat wait as a member of the Chicago Bulls shoots a free-throw at the United Center on April 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Heat 96-86 in overtime. NOTE TO USE
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Sure, the dynamic duo didn't get a lot of help from its supporting cast–something that should surprise no one on a team with nearly $50 million tied up in its three best players.

Not a single member of Miami's deservedly unheralded supporting cast topped five points in Game 2. Collectively, they shot a horrific 9-34 from the field.

And yet, the Heat still somehow had a chance to win the game.

At least until LeBron James went to the free-throw line in said game's final minute.

Mere mortals can be pardoned for missing a couple of clutch freebies. After all, the Pacers' Paul George did just that only moments before James missed his. But these are the kinds of free throws that legends most certainly do not miss.

James and Wade wound up taking 10 more shots than the entire rest of the team combined.

In truth, however, they should probably be taking every shot, with the very rare exception when Shane Battier, Mike Miller or Mario Chalmers is wide open in the corner.

As absurd as it may sound to ask more of a couple of guys who just combined to score 52 points, that's what happens when teams sacrifice their depth for a trio of elite All-Stars. James and Wade will need to score something closer to 60 or 70 points combined to control this series.

Anything short of that will make for a solid stat line to be sure, but it may also mean a premature postseason exit.