Questions to answer going into East Game 5
by Bob Kravitz, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI – Three things I’m curious about before Game 5 of the Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat Eastern Conference finals:
1. Will they be S-O-F-T soft?
If you recall last year’s Game 5, the Pacers got worked over so badly, then-team president Larry Bird called Indianapolis Star beat writer, Mike Wells, and insisted he go to Twitter to tell the world he was upset the team was so “S-O-F-T, soft.”
They responded reasonably well in Game 6 back home, but still lost the game and the series.
The Miami Heat haven’t lost back-to-back playoff games since the Eisenhower Administration (that is not official) and figure to come out Thursday with their hair on fire.
I’m curious to see how the Pacers respond. Are they just happy they’ve extended this thing to at least six games, or do they truly have designs on getting to the NBA Finals?
2. Which Lance Stephenson shows up tonight?
Seriously, if anybody has that answer, please email Frank Vogel because he’d love to get your insight.
After Game 4, Vogel said Stephenson acts as a “barometer” for how well or how poorly his team plays. He’s been about what you expect from a guy who’s essentially in his rookie year, very high highs and deep, deep lows. There is a very thin line between playing aggressively and recklessly, and Stephenson is still looking for that happy medium.
So are the Pacers.
3. What will LeBron James’ stat line look like?
We’re not going out on a limb here by suggesting James is going to have a monster game in Game 5. This is basically a must-win for the Heat, and I fully expect James to take over far more than he did in a relatively quiet (for him) Game 4. Champions emerge in this kind of situation, so I wouldn’t be shocked to witness another triple-double.
The question for the Pacers, then, is what the other Heat are able to do. Chris Bosh has disappeared. Dwyane Wade has been merely ordinary. The support players have taken turns having big games — first Birdman Chris Andersen, then Udonis Haslem and then Mario Chalmers.
In Game 5, LeBron comes to … [For more on Questions to answer going into East Game 5, click here.]