I’m not exactly sure what happened to Indiana. In Games 2 and 3 they looked poised and confident enough to take the series against Miami, especially after Chris Bosh went out with an abdominal injury. And yet, here we sit.
Miami emerged victorious, sending Larry Bird’s “soft” team fishing far earlier than they probably expected.
It’s interesting how this series went down. Instead of a high caliber shoot-out, we instead paid witness to one of the grittiest, ugliest and downright tiring forms of basketball around. Neither team ever really exploded, although James and Wade found a nice offensive groove in the series’ latter portion; and each team seemed worn down by the fourth quarter, at times evoking a Rocky Balboa/Apollo Creed standoff.
I don’t think Miami is necessarily better than the Pacers, just smarter (and yes, I give credit to Spoelstra and his coaching staff for making the proper adjustments). They attacked the rim on every possession and forced the Pacers to play hard nosed defense. In a sense, they wore Indiana down for three quarters and then allowed James and (in the case of tonight’s game) Wade to more or less take over in the fourth. It also helped that Miller, Battier, Chalmers, and Anthony each stepped up and contributed in effective ways.
That’s the thing – usually a basketball game comes down to the final few possessions. Teams trade baskets for three quarters before the opposing coaches get down and dirty with a fourth quarter more akin to a chess match than an NBA game. The Heat/Pacers series felt like a chess match the entire way through. Every possession mattered; every turnover critical. Boston plays in similar fashion. I think the Heat were wise to develop this strategy (for obvious reasons), mainly because it prepares them for the Celtics.
Like I said in my previous post, neither Boston or Miami carries enough offensive punch to take down the high scoring San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder. If the Heat do move onto the Finals, they’ll discover (for the second year in a row) that star power can only take you so far.
Or so I hope.