The NBA Playoffs: Day 25: The Heat (and Hit) is ON

Dwyane Wade makes the acrobatic shot plus the foul from Roy Hibbert.
The Heat lead 3-2 with Game 6 in Indy on Thursday
(Photo by REUTERS)
#HeatIsON #pace&space
We did not see the same numbers from Wade and James like they did in Game 4 BUT the Heat still ended up winning and they won big. The Heat were scorching hot in the field as they shot a franchise-best 61.4% while limiting the Pacers to 33.7% which was a Pacers low. The Heat led in this game from start to finish with the Pacers trying to catch up all game long. The Heat offense came alive along with their "pace & space" mentality which thrived on fast breaks (22-2 advantage) and open three-point shots (9-16). The Big 2 came out running and gunning as they showcased highlight plays after the other. D-Wade had a couple of And-1s where the harder part was making the freethrow and then LBJ had this amazing baseball pass and a couple of transition dunks. The duo "only" combined for 58 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. After sputtering from the arc in the previous four games, the Heat shooters came alive and started making jumpers. This opened the floor for more penetration and D-Wade went to town making all sorts of acrobatic shots plus the foul. James also displayed his arsenal of post moves with a running hook, a floater and a running bank shot.

#supportingcast #SuperMario
Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem are important role players for the Heat. In most games, the Big 2 cannot win without help from their supporting cast. Battier and Haslem both have struggled mightily from the field and have contributed little scoring. Their defense and effort were always there (1 and 2 in charges taken) but the Heat needed more scoring since Bosh was still out. Haslem started to make shots in Game 4 and he continued to make shots (10 pts, 5-6) while Battier played his best game as a Heat with 13 pts and 3 rebs while primarily defending David West who only had 10 pts and 4 rebs. Battier was giving up about 2 inches in height and 30 pounds in heft but he managed to outplay West on both ends of the court. West got so frustrated that he even insinuated that Battier targeted his knees on a harmless box out. Meanwhile, Mario Chalmers did a super job on the boards as he grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to lead the Heat as they out-muscled and out-rebounded the taller and bigger Pacers squad, 49-35. The rebounds gathered by Chalmers were crucial because that allowed James and Wade to get a head start in running the fast break as they annihilated the Pacers in transition and points in the paint (46-26).

Udonis Haslem gives Tyler Hansbrough a dose of his physical play.
Haslem was given a flagrant-1 foul and might be suspended
(Photo by REUTERS)
#NoBloodNoFoul #HitIsON
The Pacers started the verbal jabs before the series even started with Coach Vogel and Roy Hibbert saying a few discouraging things about the Heat. Then the Pacers started the on-court antics with Danny Granger acting like a tough guy and getting in James or Wade's face. Then Lance Stephenson doing the choke gesture aimed at LeBron and talking thrash on the bench even though he does not play. The Heat responded with a few of their physical plays in Game 5. Tyler Hansbrough started it when he gave D-Wade a whack and a shove that opened a cut in the eyebrow area (same area with Haslem) which resulted in a flagrant-1 foul. That's a foul call that I agree with. Less than a minute later, Haslem found himself guarding Psycho T and then UD gave him a two-handed chop on the shoulder and arm. Haslem escaped with a flagrant-1 foul but I felt that he should have gotten a flagrant-2 foul which meant an ejection. Now, the NBA might suspend Haslem for Game 6 and if that happens, that flagrant foul was dumb and not worth it. As for Dexter Pittman who elbowed Lance Stephenson in the collarbone area during garbage time, that was a dirty play even if Stephenson deserved it. Pittman only got a flagrant-1 foul but Im sure the NBA will suspend him a couple of games. Playoff basketball should be played tough, hard and physical but cheap shots and dirty plays should not be included. We shall see if the Pacers retaliate in Game 6.  

The Pacers caught a big break when Chris Bosh went down with an injury and wont play in the series. This allowed the Pacers to dominate the paint with David West and Roy Hibbert. After Game 5, the lucky break might go to the Heat because Danny Granger went down with a sprained ankle while David West got a sprained knee. Granger rolled his ankle while stepping on James' shoe and he tried to play again after that but he rolled his ankle again and was unable to finish the game. Granger hobbled to the locker room and left the arena with a walking boot. As for West, he hurt himself on an innocent play where Battier simply boxed out on a rebound. His injury was not as bad as Granger's because West could have played if the game was close but the Pacers decided to sit him due to the blowout loss. Apparently, both of them will be available for Game 6 because if they dont play, then the Pacers will be going fishing by Friday.

#Tweets/Quotes of the Night
"I can't believe my team went soft, S-O-F-T. I'm disappointed. I never thought it would happen. That's all I have to say." - Larry Bird, Pacers' President

"Best part of Psycho T flagrant is also slapping teammate in face on follow thru." - John Hollinger  @johnhollinger, ESPN and creator of PER

#Stats #News

  • Game 5 winners from a 2-2 series, move on to the next round 83% of the time
  • Wade and James outscored the Pacers starting lineup 58-45
  • 32-point loss was biggest in Pacers' playoff history
  • Larry Bird called teammates "sissies" in 1984 and the Celtics won that series
  • LBJ had his 45th 30-point playoff game (3rd among active players)
  • Wade now shooting 23-40 in last two games (2-13 in Game 3)
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