When you look at the statistics before this match-up, I guess you would say that the Indiana Pacers would get themselves handed by the Miami Heat, led by the solid core of superstars; LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. But only one of those players could show up in last night’s match-up, and that was no other than James.
The Pacers played outstanding defense, along with solid offense. Let’s just say they played tremendous all-around basketball. It was mainly thanks to T.J. Ford, even though Danny Granger led the way through most of the second half. Ford was hitting three-pointers and all these big shots, something we have never seen from this guy for a while. I have never seen him shoot so well. Oh yeah…he was also passing the ball!
The Heat played horrible, however. There supposed-to-be leader in Dwyane Wade shot one-of-13 from the field and only finished with three points. The Pacers improved to 6-6, now at .500 again. Who would have thought they would go back to .500 over a team like the Heat? Miami now drops to 8-6 with two losses to two surprising teams, the Pacers and the Memphis Grizzlies. The score was what really surprised me, as Indy won 93-77.
Danny Granger finished with 20 points, eleven rebounds, and six assists, leading the team in basically every category. Brandon Rush stepped it big in this game, having a season-high of 20 points. Rush showed a lot of consistency, and you got to love that from a guy who struggles with that. But he has definitely improved largely this year.
“We came into their building knowing how good they’re supposed to be,” Rush said. “And they just had a bad night.”
Wade was entering the game recovering from a sprained wrist. Wade has never shot so bad while attempting that many shots, which were 13. This is Wade’s third-lowest point total in his career. The other two happened against the Washington Wizards in 2004, where he scored zero points. He scored zero points again against the Chicago Bulls in 2006, but left with an injury earlier in the match-up.
“A tough night for Dwyane,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But we’ve been around him long enough. He always finds a way to bounce back. Getting his health is the priority, first of all. But secondly, we know that he’s very introspective as a professional athlete. That’s the way I want all of our guys in the locker room to be.”
LeBron James had 25 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Chris Bosh finally had a good game, but didn’t step it up fully. But though, Bosh did have 21 points and eleven rebounds. T.J. Ford had scored 13 points for the Pacers. Mike Dunleavy finished with eleven.
“Make or miss, we wanted to run,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “We wanted to push it and move them. They were having a difficult time guarding our passing game. When they scored we just wanted to get it in quickly and put it at them.”
Wade said that it wasn’t his wrist that was the problem and the reason why he shot so bad.
“I’ve played with worse,” Wade said. “No bearing on my performance.”
The game was pretty much over after Danny Granger hit two key three-pointer towards the final minute of the game. His last three brought the game to a commercial break. When looking at the scoreboard popping up when the FSN Indiana announcer talks about, he is saying the Pacers are winning 91-75. It felt like a dream hearing that, but it was life. It was true. Once Granger hit that shot, everyone in the stands started leaving the game.
The Pacers’ bench dominated in the game, outscoring Miami 40-4. Jamaal Magloire, who was entering the game with only three points all season so far, had all the points for the team’s bench. This is the lowest-scoring total the Heat have put up on offense this whole season. Indy also showed that the Heat really need to sign someone like Erick Dampier, as the Pacers out-rebounded them 48-39. What makes this even more frustrating for Miami is that 6’9″ forward Danny Granger and reserve power forward Solomon Jones led the game in rebounds, both having eleven and ten respectively. Roy Hibbert, who is the rebound-machine for the Pacers, only had five of them and nine points. He needed a rest, and he got it.
“We’re in a position where we’re going to get everybody’s best and we haven’t jelled as a team,” Bosh said. “This is what we asked for coming into it, and we just have to keep going.”
The Miami Heat shouldn’t expect being the best team this year. The Chicago Bulls didn’t even think this. Did everyone expect that 72-win Bulls team to get that many wins when they first joined up? Of course not. Same with the Heat. They can’t expect that. The Heat can at least finish with 50 wins and that’s good enough for the playoffs. Easily good enough, actually. Miami doesn’t need to worry if it were me. I believe they will break the record, but definitely not this year.
The Associated Press covered the rest of the game nicely:
Here’s a perfect example of how the night went for Miami: With 1:16 left, James and Bosh both leaped for a defensive rebound. They both missed it, both fell over backwards, and the ball went to Indiana.
“Sometimes,” Spoelstra said, “you have four or five games where nothing seems to go right.”
Overall, it was a poor night by the Heat, but a solid one for the Pacers.
“We’re not having fun right now,” James said.
Miami will head to Orlando and face the Magic again. Can they destroy them again? I think they can. As for the Pacers, they will be hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is going to be a good game to cover, and I expect a win. Easily. If the Pacers can play like they did last night or like they did in Quicken Loans Arena a couple of games ago, then they are heading up to 7-6.
I have been saying this since the off-season, this is not your average Indiana Pacers team. I expect the seventh seed, and I am still seeing that. I still believe in that right now. Especially after this win. People need to realize this Pacers team is pretty darn good.
The Miami Heat found that out.
And they found that the hard way.