Miami Heat 105 – Indiana Pacers 96
Not much more to add to that in terms of game recap. You’ve undoubtedly seen the highlights. The Typo posterizing McBob was just one of several I’m-going-to-the-basket-and-unless-you’ve-got-a-gun-there’s-nothing-you-can-do-about-it moments last night, but it was the unlikely back-to-back three’s in overtime that extinguished the Pacers’ hopes.
“Unlikely” is something of an interesting choice of words. Let’s face facts: Dwyane Wade is a terrible three point shooter. Over the course of his career, Wade has only hit 29% of his shots from beyond the arc. Through his first five seasons, he shot a putrid 26% while averaging about one chuck a night. Over the last two season, he’s more than tripled his attempts, and he has hit about 30% of those, but that is still not good. Basically, that means the vacuum power on his three point suckage can only move a golf ball through 25 feet of frozen garden hose instead of 50, and the days of removing the chrome from a trailer hitch are probably passed.
So that’s why, when – in the midst of an 18-point, 6-for-9 3rd Quarter – Wade pulled up for a three ball early in the shot clock and trailing by four, I quipped, “Dwyane (pronouncing it DWY- Ann), buddy, that’s a turnover.” When the ball clanged off the side of the rim, showering rebounders with chips of orange paint, the guys I was at the game with all laughed appreciatively. Later, after another one of those (see clever, but inordinately long description above) drives, I loudly said I’d sag off Wade and throw money at him until he shot the three, drawing grunts of agreement.
I am so very, very clever.
Unfortunately, Flash isn’t just a bad three-point shooter. He is also a Great Player. I’m not talking small “g” great, an appellation that gets passed around on the internet more than Prissy Catlow down the Point. I’m talking about honest-to-God great. Difference maker. Special.
And that’s why there was no clever quip when Flash pulled up for a trey in OT with the Pacers trailing by two. I simply thought, “Firetruck.” (Not really, that’s just the euphemism I learned as an adolescent for my brother-in-law Vince’s favorite word.) Then, when he launched the second attempt a scant 30 seconds later, I thought, “Mother Firetruck,” and closed my eyes. The loud cheer that went up from the way-too-many Heat fans in Conseco told me what I already knew: the game was over.
All of the information and data in my head told me that he’d miss that shot two times out of three, and that maybe one time in twelve would he hit back-to-back triples. All of the knowledge in my head told me he was going to hit ‘em. Sure, I was hoping they’d miss, and that the Pacers would run back and take control of the game. It wasn’t real hope, though. It was a kind of desperate hope. Like the kind you have when your car is sliding on slick pavement towards a light pole. You hope that either the car will stop in time or that the light pole will manage to jump out of the way. You view each with equivalent likelihood.
Wade hit the threes, and the Pacers were gut shot. All that was left was the slow, lingering agony that comes with knowing the inevitable.
So, about “unlikely.” That’s one of those phrases that is technically correct, but not even vaguely accurate (or honest, even). However, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Pacer fan, never pretending to be anything different. Therefore, it’s my prerogative, perhaps even duty, to be petty, small-minded, spiteful, and bitter. I upheld that duty last night, saying after Wade’s first trey, “Oh man, you could take that shot 99 times and not hit it again.” I may have even gone so far as to yell, “Shoot it! Shoot it!” at Wade before the second one. I can’t quite recall. At that point in time, my judgment and discretion had already left the Fieldhouse and was walking down the street to O’Reilly’s to see if there was a table for four, leaving only “the fan.” Never a pretty sight.
So…”Unlikely” it is.
I am so very, very childish.
Oh, I guess you might want some actual game notes
- It was readily apparent that the Pacers’ transformation from possibly the worst Pacer squad ever to a competitive and somewhat enjoyable to watch team continued. Not that this necessarily means anything long term, but when you’ve looked forward to a night out with your brother, nephew, and lifelong friend all week, it’s really, really nice to have some good basketball to go with it. The Pacers and Heat didn’t disappoint, providing as close to playoff basketball as Pacer fans will see in Conseco this year. The tight nature of the game was a big step up for the Pacers, who had been completely and totally owned by Miami in the first three matchups. The average margin of defeat had been 32 in Miami, and it had been a not-as-close-as-the-final-score-indicated 13-point difference in Conseco’s earlier contest. The Heat’s athleticism and physicality creates headaches for Indy, which generally has had neither all year long. However, the Pacers clawed and scratched and helped all night. Effort, movement, and intensity that would have been really nice to see, oh, say all year long.
- My recap of the Hawks game last Sunday pointed out a major difference in the game by showing a picture of the shot charts of Roy Hibbert and Al Horford. Looking at this comparison of Dwyane and Danny’s output gives a good indication of the difference between Big “G” and small “g” greatness.
- The two point guards, Earl Watson and A.J. Price, came up big down the stretch. They both made big plays down the stretch. It’s not a combination that’s going to bring the Larry O’Brien to Indy, but it is sound. For the second year in a row, the Pacers figured out a PG rotation that works after it was too late. This is going to be a big decision this summer. In my mind, there is no way they can bring T.J. Ford back into camp next year. Once again, we will probably have T.J.’s contract preventing us from keeping the PG we’d prefer to keep (though much shorter term and cheaper in Earl’s case than in Jarret’s). I don’t think Price is ready for starter’s minutes, and I don’t think he’ll ever really be good enough to deserve them. We’re into our second decade of being unsettled at the point guard.
- Roy Hibbert would like to apologize for missing last night’s game. As it turns out, a group of rabid Michigan State fans mistook him for Butler Bulldog star Gordon Hayward. He spent the evening tied up in the bed of a burnt orange metallic Chevy SUT, but was released around midnight when they discovered their mistake. Confusing Hibbert for Hayward? I know, I know, but, whaddaya want? They’re Michigan State fans.
- Speaking of Hayward, d’ya ‘spose there be any way we could orchestrate a secret swap of him for Mike Dunleavy? He could just play out Junior’s contract, wearing #17 and everything. Michael could go matriculate at Butler. I don’t know about you, but I’m growing weary of the Weekend at Bernie’s routine the Pacers are doing with Junior’s corpse.
- Downtown in Indy was the place to be last night. A beautiful, breezy night with the temperatures comfortably in the 60′s. Lots of people and lots of electricity. Indianapolis converts so easily to a college town feel when the Final Four’s in town.
Sure, you won the game, and your de-pantsing of Brandon Rush followed by your vicious posterization of Josh McRoberts drew plenty of “Oooh’s and Aaah’s,” but this fella (Blue 2, Butler’s mascot) got the biggest ovation from the crowd all night long. So, yeah. Suck it, Dwyane.
(Personal note: Butler is the alma mater of my father and one of my lifelong friends. I even attended for a year, before I decided that it was too expensive for me not to go to class. I have spent many a drunken evening on their quiet little campus, and I am pulling for them with every fiber of my being. Don’t lump these guys in with the GMU’s of the world. They belong here, and they’ve got a real shot.)