The Indiana Pacers avoided embarrassment. The Indiana Pacers avoided being the laughing stock of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The Indiana Pacers, for 12 minutes tonight, were the best team on the court. Just happened to be the 12 minutes in the 4th quarter.
The Pacers took down the Miami Heat on Wednesday, setting up a key Game 6 matchup on Friday night in Miami. Through most of this game, the same Indiana Pacers that we have all complained about all playoff long being lazy, relaxed on defense & not being the team who wanted the #1 seed, played as though the season was completed.
However, a funny thing happened that pretty much sealed the game. LeBron James got in major foul trouble, severely limiting his minutes & making sure he was not a factor. However, the Heat tried everything to keep in this game, especially with 6 3-pointers from Rashard Lewis, who for all we know could still be making more money than any other in NBA history. Lewis better be thanking the Orlando Magic forever for the contract they signed him to back in the day.
Clearly, the star of the game though was Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, who had 37 points, with 31 coming in the second half & 21 in the fourth quarter. George, who was getting blasted in the media the last 48 hours for claiming that the Pacers outplayed the Heat in Game 4 in the blowout victory that put the Heat up 3-1 in the series at the time, stepped up & backed up the talk with clutch offensive & defensive plays that clearly saved the Heat season.
But, we have come to expect big performances from George, who at 6’10, has similar game to Kevin Durant in that he can shoot with the best, moves like a shooting guard or at times a point guard, but has the length where he is almost unguardable at times.
Roy Hibbert & Lance Stevenson still didn’t have great games, but when you win, everything else is looked over & no one really cares right now. We are focused more on Stevenson blowing into LeBron’s ear like he wanted to make love to him after the game was over. Weird, but maybe just enough to get into James’ head…………eh, no. The fouls bothered James more than getting blowed. (Do with that as you may).
Anywho, game 6 will have all of the pressure on the Heat to close it out in Miami. If this series comes back to Indianapolis for game 7, anything can happen & the Pacers fans are going to be incredibly amped for that game. For the Miami Heat, the team has to finish this up, now. The Pacers have been playing absolutely dreadful for the totality of the playoffs, but they have new confidence & life & if the Miami Heat truly want rest before we know the winner of the Thunder/Spurs series, this has to be finished now.
I still think the Heat will take care of business though, due to the mission that the Heat are on to win this NBA Championship & that this could be the last time this group is together in this fashion with James, Wade & Bosh having the option to opt out of their contracts after the season.
The Pacers have showed that they do care though, which many fans had been wondering about for the last 2 months during the NBA playoffs. Head Coach Frank Vogel kept the team together tonight when the Heat looked as though they were going to run away with the game at various points.
No matter what happens with this series, Vogel has absolutely earned an extension with the franchise & if Pacers President Larry Bird knew what was best for the team, that extension will get done sooner rather than later. Vogel & Heat coach Erik Spolestra are two of the bright young minds in the NBA. The Heat took care of Spol, time for the Pacers to do the same with Vogel.
Game 6 should be a dozy.