I still have no idea how the Indiana Pacers just evened their second round series with the Miami Heat at one game apiece with a 78-75 victory.
Seriously, it was one of the ugliest games I had ever seen, one I had expected the Pacers to lose by 30 at one stage. In the first half, the Pacers dribbled down the shot clock on just about every possession, missed almost all their open shots, turned the ball over incessantly and got a bunch of bad calls against them to boot. And yet, the Pacers were just down 38-33 at the half.
In the third quarter, they turned it up and outscored the Heat 28-14 to head into the fourth with a 9-point cushion, but as expected, the Heat came storming back to take the lead late in the game. The Pacers would miss 4 of 6 free throws in the last 80 seconds (2 from Paul George, and 1 each from Hibbert and Hill) -- and yet they somehow still won the game when Mario Chalmers missed a three-pointer with only a second or two to spare.
So now, the Pacers head back to Indiana with the series tied. Chris Bosh is still out and will likely be out for the rest of the series. But somehow, it still doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence that the Pacers can win against this Heat team. We can't expect the Heat to play this bad, with or without Bosh, for the next 3 to 5 games, so unless the Pacers get their act together the outcome is not going to be any different to what everyone expected.
Too much going through my head so let's just use bullet points:
- D-Wade is a crybaby. First he whinges about a no-call against Dahntay Jones when Jones went straight up and Wade flopped to the floor. Then he makes a blatantly dirty play against Darren Collison -- shoulder charging him on the fast break, and then walking up to him as though he wanted to start something. Collison, to his credit, walked away and nailed the two flagrant free throws. And last, but not least, after the game he complains that the Pacers celebrated too much.
- By the way, it is unfathomable how Wade only got a flagrant 1 for his shove on Collison, when Jason Smith got a flagrant 2 (auto ejection) and a 2-game suspension for doing almost the exact same thing against Blake Griffin. And Collison didn't even have the ball when he got steamrolled.
- Speaking of dirty crybaby, did anyone see Lebron's Metta World Peace impersonation when he twice tried to elbow Danny Granger after Granger fouled him from behind? Granger (11 points, 5-14 shooting, fouled out) might never ever get close to being Lebron's (28 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals) equal in terms of ability or accomplishments, but you have to admire him for getting in the three-time MVP's face like that.
- Oh yeah, and Lebron bricked 2 free throws -- which would have given the Heat the lead -- with 54 seconds left.
- Is there any doubt now that David West is the most important player on the team? The Beast had 16 and 10, but it was his composure and maturity that enabled the Pacers to win this game. And thumbs up for shouting at his troops to stop celebrating and get off the court after the final buzzer because it was "just one game". Gotta love the dude.
- Paul George grew up in a lot in this game. In the first half he was getting absolutely raped by the refs, who not only called horrible fouls on him but didn't get him any calls at the other end when he kept getting hacked at the rim (to be fair to the Heat, Mario Chalmers got some bad calls against him too). George was also being outsmarted by Wade's pump fakes and flops, and it was clearly frustrating the young man. So kudos to PG for coming back strong, persisting, and finishing with 10 points, 11 rebounds and a huge block on Lebron.
- Roy Hibbert is not getting the ball enough and it's his own fault. The Pacers went to Hibbert immediately after tip off and he delivered the team's first 2 buckets. After that, he didn't do a whole lot, and it's really his own fault for not getting in good position and demanding the ball. Against this small Heat team he should be eating them up. So they were fronting him in the post -- so what? Demand that his teammates just throw it up there and let him do his thing. Sheesh.
- Barbosa proves once again that he can be the difference in this series. Sure he got blitzed on defense, but when Barbosa is on the floor he gives the Pacers their best isolation player. And in a series like this where every point is a premium, that can be the X factor. Barbosa only scored 8 points (felt like a lot more) but he was one of the main reasons the Pacers won the game.
Jason Smith on Blake Griffin:
Now D-Wade on Darren Collison: