NBA Playoffs 2012: Pressure Points in Pivotal Game 5 of Heat vs. Pacers

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 20: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat moves against Danny Granger #33 of the Indiana Pacers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 20, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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If the Miami Heat have proved anything this postseason, it's that they're as human as every other team in the league.

They might have the best player in the entire league, they might have the best duo in the league, and they might even have the best trio in the league—but they're not impervious to internal squabbles or poor performances.

The Indiana Pacers exploited all that and then some in Games 2 and 3, but the Heat bounced back to even things up in Game 4.

Tonight's crucial Game 5 could change everything. A win for Miami at least guarantees it a Game 7 on its home floor should it falter in Game 6, while a win for Indiana gives the Pacers at least two opportunities to close out the Heat.

What will ultimately be the difference-maker in Game 5? Let's take a look.


Frontcourt battle

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 17: (L-R) Paul George #24, Roy Hibbert #55 and Danny Granger #33 of the Indiana Pacers pressure Ronny Turiaf #21 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhous
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Here's a fun stat: The winning team in each game of this series has won the battle on the boards. In Game 4 it was LeBron James who gave the Heat the boost they needed as he grabbed more rebounds than he had in the previous two losses combined.

The Pacers, meanwhile, didn't have a single player record double-digit boards in the loss.

Needless to say, this is the most important battle on the court.


LeBron James vs. Danny Granger

This matchup isn't just about James and Granger going toe to toe when they're matched up, it's about Granger rising to the occasion and acting like a true No. 1 scorer for his team.

He led the Pacers with 20 points to LeBron's 40 in Game 4, but he didn't get to the foul line once. The league's MVP, meanwhile, took 16 free throws.

That is unacceptable and something that has to change. 


Dwyane Wade

We know Wade's Game 3 performance was an utterly astonishing rarity of terrible play, but we also know that when he's clicking he makes all the difference in the world.

LeBron can win games doing so much more than just scoring, but the Heat need Wade to find the bottom of the net as frequently as possible.

If the Pacers focus too much on LeBron in Game 5, it needs to be Wade that makes them pay.