LeBron Goes Legendary in the Third Quarter and Pacers Stall Out as Miami Wins Game 5


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LeBron took over the game in the third quarter. He took complete ownership. You could argue that the Pacers relinquished control, playing a terrible brand of offense throughout the quarter as Miami ramped up its aggressive pressure, but it the game’s best player simply became unstoppable.

He scored at will and remained as calm as a docile Pacific Ocean, finding teammates for open jumpers whenever the Pacers defense collapsed on his as he entered the paint. It wasn’t even bad Indiana defense. At some point, after Udonis Haslem hits jumper after jumper, you probably have to mix it up, but as much as LeBron was in control, he would have probably scored on those drives if the defense didn’t collapse.

The Pacers stuck to the scheme, cutting off his drives and making him take jumpshots. And then, when he did get by his defender and get into the lane, they prioritized cutting off the layup as opposed to going all out on denying shooters. It’s a sound strategy, over the long term, and what they’ve don all year.

But Miami hit 9-of-13 outside the paint (including 6-for-7 in the midrange) in the third quarter while shooting 72.2% overall in the period.

Here is the Heat’s third-quarter shot chart.

Heat 3Q - Game 5

That’s just insane. And it was mostly created by LeBron James being LeBron James.

The Pacers knew they might be in for that: an unbelievable performance from the four-time MVP.

Unfortunately, the Heat used this offensive onslaught to move their confidence needle to the red line, and proceeded to also start playing a suffocating, pressure defense that took the Pacers out of everything they wanted to do.

If you want to blame the back court for their bad play — criticism George Hill and Lance Stephenson definitely deserve — blame them mostly for their inability to initiate offense in the third quarter.

Here is the Pacers’ third-quarter shot chart.

Pacers 3Q - Game 5

They made just 3-of-14 shots (21.4%) while committing 5 turnovers (that led to 9 Heat points).

Hill’s foul trouble was a factor. He was forced to sit for nearly 7 minutes in the period, and D.J. Augustin added no production nor ran the offense well while on the floor.

But that poor execution was the difference.

Given LeBron’s domination and Miami’s hot shooting in the quarter, it’s doubtful the Pacers end the third ahead no matter how well they run their offense. But by completely falling apart, they gave themselves not chance to survive the MVP’s onslaught.

He was that good. Indiana’s offense was that bad.

Moving backwards, you have to like what the Pacers did in half one.

Indiana’s front court combined for 39 points on just 28 shots in the first 24 minutes. They were getting the looks they wanted and were in control of the game. Had a few more layups gone down — Indiana shot 6-for-15 in the restricted area in quarters one and two — they could have gone into the break up by double digits.

But they didn’t.

And that left the door open for LeBron to do his thing.

How did he ever.

Indiana did show some resilience in the fourth quarter, cutting what was a 13-point deficit down to 8. In fact, what made it just an 8-point game was a rugged Tyler Hansbrough putback. But on the play Hansbrough landed awkwardly on (I believe) Shane Battier, and was forced to the locker room.

It was a 5-0 Pacers run to start the fourth.

But the subsequent timeout brought LeBron back in to the game, because Spoelstra had had enough, and West back into the game because Hansbrough was injured.

I don’t think West was ready to re-enter the game, stamina-wise.

He needed another minute of two.

West looked gassed late, and while that was by no means the primary cause of Miami out-scoring Indiana 20-17 the rest of the way, it may have had some effect. Moreover, the Pacers were just in too big of a hole to climb back. In a perfect world, it was possible, but not with Indiana’s offense looking as stagnant as it became and not with LeBron being as in control of the game as he was.

So, yeah, that was the difference.

The third.

The Pacers now need to win Saturday night in Indiana to force a Game 7.

They have the horses to do it, no doubt.

They just need to execute much better than they did in the third and not miss as many good looks as they did in the first half.

Tags: 2013 Playoffs Game Recap Pacers Vs. Heat

  • Brian Evans

    george hills fouls were killer. we were terrible against the knicks without him. against the heat, no chance. fouls 3 and 4 were pretty questionable as well. offensive foul? how was the defender set. anyway, hope coach vogel leaves him in whatever the cost next time. you have to put your best five in when the heat are storming like that.

    • Bill

      Dropped the shoulder, pretty easy call from a former’s ref standpoint.

  • lil-bang

    Not impressed with the offense when 3 minutes were left in the game…didn’t even look like they wanted to try and come back a win it. They would run plays that took 20 seconds off the clock when down double digits. Try something. It was like they were playing just not to get blown out.

    Not impressed with Vogel’s strategy last night once Hill and Stephenson were in foul trouble. Last night was the night to try something new to see if a fire could be produced from someone on the bench. DJ has shown he can’t do anything against the heat…someone else needed to be out there. OJ and Green should have got some PT last night just to see if a they could get something going.
    Game 6…once again we get to see how tough this team really is. GO PACERS!!!

    • Realist

      Agreed. Get OJ and GG in there to jack some up. What have you got to lose when you’re down 10-12.

  • Ian

    I wish Vogel would try someone other than DJ at this point. His only contribution is open 3 point shooting. He can’t initiate the offense, heck, he frequently turns it over off the dribble, which you figure is the one thing a short point guard wouldn’t do. Problem is he’s short and not very quick which is a terrible combination.
    Refs definitely favored Miami last night. The Heat have a knack for knowing exactly when to string together a few flops to stymie the opponents rhythm.
    But I think in the end you also have to criticize the Pacers energy and effort. They have no chance if they only outrebound the Heat by 1.

  • dwaink

    this was pure carnage, u got to lay it at coach V’s feet: he called the plays he saw there weren’t happening, he did nothing to try and rectify the mess…did GHill drive the lane once in a regular offensive set…u know and dish…1 frickin point against the reigning champs…and the debacle that Lance was defies description…Miami did everything they could to give that game to the Pacers…and they were all no uh uh we don’t want it…sorry we need a point guard that can pass to the post and dribble drive…we just don’t have one

    i’m still wishing for a miracle…but that’s what it’s gonna take

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  • Jack Wright

    George Hill is a scared little bunny rabbit on the road.

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