Much like game five, the third quarter was the swing quarter in the Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers. While LeBron James single handedly won game five, it was the Indiana Pacers that gained the advantage in the third quarter of play.
Miami entered the half leading by one, 40-39. The game was tightly contested throughout the first half, but it was clear that the Heat were going to need another heroic third quarter from LeBron James if they wanted to eliminate the Pacers from the playoffs and advance to the NBA Finals.
However, there were no late game heroics from James as Paul George and Roy Hibbert led the Pacers on a run that outscored the Heat 29-15 in the third quarter. It was an all around domination and has now left many in doubt as to whether the Heat, once the championship favorites, will even make it back to defend their title.
For the Pacers, it was another strong performance from their big man Roy Hibbert, 24 points and 11 rebounds, and their star point-man Paul George, 28 points and eight rebounds. They also got help from a strong supporting cast of David West, 11 points and 14 rebounds, George Hill, 16 points, and Lance Stephenson, 12 rebounds.
The Indiana Pacers dominated the Heat in just about every facet of the game and especially rebounding. Indiana had three players in double figures in rebounding and out rebounded the Heat 53-33 with 38 defensive rebounds.
While the Indiana Pacers won big in the end, it was not for a lack of effort on James part. The reigning MVP scored 29 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in 42 minutes. The “Big Three” of Wade-Bosh-James was nonexistent as Wade and Bosh combined for just 15 points on 4-19 shooting and just six rebounds between the two of them.
The final nail the proverbial coffin was a double technical foul called on LeBron James and Heat assistant coach David Fizdale. LeBron went up for a layup against Roy Hibbert and James was called for the offensive foul late in the fourth quarter. James ran down to the other end of the court in disgust and Fizdale must have said something that the referee did not like as both were whistled for technicals.
The tale of the tape in tonights matchup was simply the lack of support for LeBron James. Take nothing away from the Pacers, they played a great game, but, if the Heat hope to advance to the NBA Finals, they’ll need to have some other players step up and make plays other than. It was made obvious tonight that James can’t get it done by himself.
Roy Hibbert was a machine for the Pacers in game six. When Hibbert was the floor, he did great job on the boards and offensively. The former Georgetown Hoya has been dominant down low all series long. In five of the six games this series, Hibbert has recorded a 20+ point and 10+ rebound double-double.
After seeing the performance from the Heat in tonights game, game seven could be a lopsided one in favor of the Pacers. LeBron has gotten little to no help from his teammates and the Pacers have done an excellent job sticking to their game plan and executing. If the Pacers can continue with the same consistency as tonight, the Heat could likely find themselves on the couch come June 6th when the Finals tipoff.
The decisive game seven that will decide who goes on to the NBA Finals to face the Spurs will be held Monday night in Miami at 8:30 and will be on TNT.