When styles so fundamentally different collide, chaos is the only logical result.
Controlled chaos I should say. That is what we’re getting in the epic rollercoaster ride that is the clash between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers.
Following the Pacers' 99-92 win over the Heat Tuesday night, we’re back to square one.
It was tied at 0-0 to start. Two games in Miami, things were knotted up 1-1. And now after two games in Indiana, go figure, we’re tied again at 2-2.
Four games of basketball. Absolutely zero answers.
This is what a conference final is supposed to feel like. Forget the answers; the intrigue and mystery that this series has provided thus far have exceeded all possible expectations.
It would be fun to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. But alas, answers must be sought. With three games to go, it’s time to make some sense out of a series that has laughed in the face of it.
Here’s what we know: When the Pacers utilize their size to its maximum potential, they become equals with a Heat team that is superior in star power.
It has shown in both the wins and the losses.
In the Game 1 loss, the Heat prevailed when LeBron James exploited Frank Vogel’s foolish decision to bench Roy Hibbert in the waning seconds, leaving the paint wide open for a driving layup. Game 3 was similarly lost when the Pacers abandoned their post play in the second half, the result of which was a lopsided loss.
However, in the two wins, it was the reliance on both Hibbert and David West, along with contributions from Paul George and the rest of the perimeter stars, that allowed the Pacers to pound the Heat into submission.
It’s clear what the Pacers must do to emerge victorious.
For Miami, on the surface it would appear that there is a simple solution as well: ride the Big Three to victory. It’s a formula that resulted in a championship last season.
Unfortunately for Heat, they have not been able to adjust to their Big Three becoming a solo act.
Dwyane Wade hasn’t been himself throughout the entire postseason. In this series, the averages are okay—16.8 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds are nothing to sneeze at—but that’s not the Wade we’ve grown accustomed to. It’s not the Wade that the Heat have relied on in the past either.
While Wade has been merely average, Chris Bosh has been virtually non-existent. Let this next stat sink in: 14 rebounds. That would be a fantastic total for one game. For four games, though? Not so much. Not from a self-proclaimed member of the Big Three, and especially not from a power forward. His 14 points per game on under 50 percent shooting aren’t all that impressive either.
Here’s the saving grace though. The one thing that can nullify both the dominance of the Pacer’s post play and the ineptitude of the Heat’s two waning stars is...LeBron James.
That’s it. That’s all that need be said. The Heat have the best player on the court, and at times, that’s all you need. If he gets some sliver of help, the Heat might still be the favorite to face the San Antonio Spurs in the finals.
If not, the Pacers are very likely to ride their enormous size to a date with the Western champs.
We have some facts and now we need a prediction. Heads for Miami. Tails for Indiana.
Just kidding. I’m taking Indiana. Even though the series is tied, I do feel like the Pacers have been the superior team thus far. At the end of the day, I think they ride their bigs to victory.
Right or wrong, at least I got the prediction out of the way. Time to sit back and enjoy the ride.