Swing games are the most important in any post game series and with their victory on Thursday the Miami Heat have pushed the Indiana Pacers to the brink of elimination. Coming back from Tuesday’s loss the Heat were able to defeat Indiana 90-79 and take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
As with nearly every other game this series the Indiana Pacers started at a fast clip and it took the Miami Heat until the second half to find a way to respond. Indiana took control from the opening tipoff and made the Heat look very disorganized throughout much of the first and second quarter.
The frustration was clearly apparent when Chris Anderson and Tyler Hansbrough were whistled for technical fouls in a situation that saw Andersen as the aggressor and Hansbrough end up on the court. Soon after that the half would end with Indiana leading the way 44-40.
The Heat once again came out with the intention to send a message in the third quarter. Lead by LeBron James, Miami controlled nearly every facet of the game in that quarter. On his own he outscored the Pacers 16-13 and collectively the Heat scored 30 points; which is only the third time they have scored more than 30 points in any quarter this series.
LeBron James led all scorers with 30 points while including 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Once again Udonis Haslem was a big contributor for Miami as he brought in 16 points of his own; mimicking his performance back in Game Three. Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade were the only two other players in Heat uniforms to score in double figures as they ended with 12 and 10 respectively.
Paul George’s double-double was the best stat line for the Pacers. He scored 27 points and had 11 rebounds on the night. Roy Hibbert’s six rebounds were the least that he’s had all series and this was only the second game in which he didn’t record a double-double. David West also contributed with 17 points and 8 rebounds of his own.
One interesting note is that the NBA’s reviewing of the officiating in Game Four may have lead to the lack of calls in Game Five. Even though intensity was high only 30 personal fouls were called, which is well under the series average of 49.6 per game.
The Eastern Conference Finals will go back to Indiana for Game Six as the Pacers look to even up the series on Saturday. With just one more victory needed the Heat are a game closer to facing the San Antonio Spurs and potentially repeating as NBA champions. However, the Indiana Pacers haven’t made anything easy for the Heat and Game Six is expected to be more of the same.