At halftime, it was hard to tell how to feel about the game. The Pacers had weathered the storm, leading 53-51, despite 12 turnovers, Mike Miller hitting three three-points, and Dwyane Wade being, well…Dwyane Wade. However, they’d shot almost 59% and still couldn’t maintain separation.
Not sanguine, as it turns out.
It was a late third quarter fizzle – leading to a 10-point Miami margin heading into the fourth – that doomed the Pacers. Larry Bird’s players didn’t roll over this time, and they fought it back to 5 at one point and 6 at another. But, much to their chagrin, Wade and LeBron James always had an answer. The pair scored 19 of Miami’s 24 in the quarter, and combined for 69 points on the night.
Over the last three games, James and Wade averaged 33 points each. LeBron also averaged 11 rebounds and 8 assists, while Wade contributed 7 rebounds and almost 4 assists. The cold, hard truth is that LeBron and Wade – by themselves – are probably the third or best team in the league.
And they were the better team tonight. Congratulations to the Heat, who move on to face the winner of Philly-Boston series for the Eastern Conference crown. Congratulations to the Pacers, who had a great season end too soon, and now get to figure out how to take the next step.
More on this game in the hours and days to come. For now, here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at me (@8pts9secs) or Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.
|David West, PF 41 MIN | 10-16 FG | 5 REB | 2 AST | 3 TO | 24 PTS |
Unreal early in the game, and a warrior throughout, West left it all on the floor for his adopted franchise tonight.
|Danny Granger, 38 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS |
Scored 9 first quarter points and gave 38 minutes, but once the adrenaline wore off, he was clearly hobbled. I watched him closely in the first quarter, and he clearly would have to gather himself to make plays. After a while, the tank ran dry.
|Roy Hibbert, C 40 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 4 TO | 12 PTS |
Prototypical Roy – enough flashes to make the casual observer think he should get a lot more touches, but not enough tools to actually get them. No question, the Pacers can scheme and pass better, but Hibbert also needs to get better at holding position, at catching the ball and being strong with it, and most importantly, he has to become something better than catastrophic as the screener in the high PnR.
|George Hill, SG 35 MIN | 7-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 18 PTS |
When Hill missed first one, then two of his three free throws after drawing contact on a three-point attempt, I tweeted, “feels harbinger-ish.” 18 points and 5 assists is a nice line, but he really isn’t a point guard. He loses track of what the offense is supposed to be doing too much.
|Paul George, 43 MIN | 4-10 FG | 10 REB | 2 AST | 3 TO | 11 PTS |
No way around it, Paul George spent most of the series and most of this game as a disaster offensively, and we could spend days discussing his travails running the fast break. But, he’s young, and he’s a good kid. Bizarrely, if you want encouragement, watch him guarding Wade from tonight’s game. It will make you feel better about Paul, and also make you appreciate just how ungodly unstoppable Wade was.
|Dahntay Jones, SG 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 PTS |
Only one rotation as the starting unit played 31 minutes together.
|Leandro Barbosa, SG 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1 REB | 3 TO | 0 PTS |
Almost certainly the Blur’s final game as a Pacer. They needed him to give them some points, but he had only turnovers. He was a great add for the price, and he really helped this team down the stretch and in the first round. But he just didn’t help against Miami.
|Louis Amundson, C 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS |
Perhaps his last game as a Pacer, though I would imagine TPTB are interested in bringing him back for the right price.
|Tyler Hansbrough, 9 MIN | 0-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS |
For a couple minutes, it was Buckaroo Banzai – terror on the offensive glass, bundle of energy. But then, it was gone. He missed all four of his shots, and really produced nothing after the first quarter. Some very hard questions ahead for Tyler.
|Darren Collison, 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 AST | 5 PTS |
After playing so well – and being so important – in the Orlando series, there just wasn’t a role for DC against Miami. To small to guard Wade, with no opposing point guard to pressure, his defense wandered, and so did his game. It bears re-watching to see how much of his struggles were cause by the rest of the bench being so bad, and how much of the bench’s struggles were on him.