Three reasons Pacers can oust Heat
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
Could we be headed to an NBA Finals without the Miami Heat? As early as a week ago, that was blasphemy.
After all, the Heat were dominant all season, posting the league’s best record at 66-16 and even going on a 27-game game winning streak.
But now that the Eastern Conference finals between the Heat and Indiana Pacers are 2-2, the impossible seems possible.
Thursday’s game (8 p.m. ET, TNT) is big, and the task gets tougher if the Heat are forced to win the last two in a row. Still, they have shown they’re up to the challenge. Three reasons the Pacers can win the series.
1. Roy Hibbert. Indiana gave Hibbert a $58 million contract before the season, and in this series he’s earning every penny. The Pacers are scoring almost six points more than they allow when he’s on the floor and 11 fewer when he’s not.
Coach Frank Vogel learned his lesson from the end of Game 1 — leave the big man on the floor as much as possible. When the Pacers are at the top of their game, the Heat have no answer for Hibbert on either end. He has had three consecutive games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
2. Two-thirds of the Big Three need to play like they’re part of the Big Three. Yes, LeBron James is the best player on the planet, but even he is mortal when neither of the other two guys takes on a prominent role.
Chris Bosh is averaging 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 points fewer than during the regular season and had seven and three in Game 4. Dwyane Wade has scored 20 points one time in the postseason, and that was in Game 2 of the Milwaukee Bucks series. From Feb. 23 to march 17, he didn’t score fewer than 20 in any game. One of these guys needs to give James help.
3. Indiana knows it can win at Miami. A big reason the Heat were thought to be a lock for the Finals was they have been dominant at American Airlines Arena, posting a 37-4 record. … [For more on Three reasons the Pacers can oust the mighty Heat, click here.]