Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The Miami Heat lead the Indiana Pacers, 2-1
A multitude of potential postseason scenarios have been presented throughout the entire NBA season, but one unchanging constant has been the presence of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
After a Game 3 victory, Miami is now two wins away from its third straight NBA Finals appearance and an opportunity to defend last season’s championship.
Similar to the Heat’s first-game loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Chicago Bulls, the whirls of "oh my gosh, this could happen" posturing poured out following a Game 2 loss in Miami to the Pacers.
But just like the Heat have done all season, they bounced back with seeming ease. The Heat took care of Indiana on its home court 114-96 and now lead the series again.
If the Heat win a pair more and move on, the San Antonio Spurs likely await. It would create another interesting matchup for Miami, as San Antonio spreads the ball well and would be the best offensive team the Heat have faced this postseason.
The Heat wouldn't be heavy favorites, and neither team has faced an opponent better than one another this postseason, but the athletic edge of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would put Miami as probable winners. Both offensively and defensively, the Heat provide greater pressure.
As dominant as James continues to be—and he was, with 18 points and a plus/minus of plus-21 in the first half of Game 3—he went 0-of-4 from the field for no points in the third quarter and Miami still outscored the Pacers 21-20 in that quarter.
It’s a short stint emblematic of the problems Miami can create. Even when the offense isn’t clicking, the Heat are still too tough defensively for the poor perimeter shooting of the Pacers.
Relieving further pressure from James in Game 3 were the performances from his fellow starters. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers combined to shoot 26-of-42 (61.9 percent) for 64 points. Prior to Game 3, James' fellow starters averaged 40.2 points.
Stat that helps: The Heat bench had averaged more than 36 points per game prior to scoring 28 points in Game 3. In last year's postseason, Miami's bench averaged just 18.2 points per game.
What they’re saying: "We were more focused to getting to our identity (on offense),” Heat coach Erik Spoelsta said, according to FortWayne.com. “We were more committed to not settling, not letting them off the hook with shots they want us to take. They've a very good defensive team. We have to be committed to move the ball and let other people make plays."