Indiana Pacers' Game 3 Victory Has Stunned Miami Heat on the Ropes
Has one win changed the landscape of the entire 2012 NBA playoffs?
This was not just a victory for the Pacers, this was a huge mental win for a young team that needed to feel confident to be able to get past the talented Heat.
With the raucous Bankers Life Fieldhouse decked out in the Pacers' "Gold Swagger" vibrant yellow t-shirts as the backdrop for this clash of elite defenses, the Pacers began the game like a runaway freight train. They jumped out to an 11-2 start as they forced the Heat to miss their first five shots (Roy Hibbert blocked two of them, more on him later).
The Heat turned their offense on as the first quarter progressed, closing on a 24-6 run to lead 26-17 by the end.
That's where the good times ended for Miami. The Heat would score just 51 points through the next three quarters.
Dwyane Wade ended the first half 0-of-5 with three turnovers and zero points, his first ever scoreless playoff first half. He struggled on both ends of the floor, finishing the game 2-of-13 for five points with five turnovers.
Wade's night went from bad for him to bad for Miami as he got into it with his own head coach, Erik Spoelstra. Veteran forward Juwan Howard had to step in to break up the pair as they shared some choice words.
This night could be the beginning of the end of Wade's reign in Miami, as LeBron has outshone him since arriving and has made the team, if not the city, his own.
When LeBron was struggling to score or do things well this season, he has stepped back and let others try and help him. Wade on the other hand has let his frustrations get the better of him, as evident by his blatant and dangerous shove of Darren Collison in Game 2.
Speaking of LeBron, his 10-of-22, 22-point, seven-rebound stat line looks good until you break down his quarter-by-quarter scoring.
Eleven points in the first quarter, five points in the second quarter, four points in the third and just two in the fourth.
Two points in the fourth quarter. LeBron was not choking, he was absolutely exhausted and just couldn't carry this team to the finish line like he used to in Cleveland.
Danny Granger has been given the task of stopping LeBron and getting under his skin. Scoring is a secondary goal for him in this series. We saw the pair face off in Game 2 after a hard foul and last night they clashed again after Granger hauled James' back by his shirt.
James took exception and raised a "get off me" elbow. Granger himself then took exception to the elbow and the jawing began and ended with a technical foul on the Indiana forward.
Finally, a few words on Indiana center Roy Hibbert.
Nineteen points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Hibbert absolutely destroyed the Heat's depleted frontcourt as he had favorable matchups against Ronny Turiaf, Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem.
Hibbert is a free agent at the end of this season and is currently on a very low-salary contract. Last night may have added $2 million onto his contract. It was that important.
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