Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers Game 3 Recap
Miami put LeBron James right in the middle of the action Sunday night, and this time, the Indiana Pacers didn’t have an answer for him or his Miami Heat teammates.
By moving James to the post, the Heat won the scoring battle in the paint, kept Indiana at arm’s length and pulled away for a 114-96 victory and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
”I made a conscious effort to get down in the post tonight, to put pressure on their defense,” James said. ”The coaching staff wanted me to be down there tonight, and my teammates allowed me to do that.”
It was a move reminiscent of when the Los Angeles Lakers played Magic Johnson in the post in place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA Finals more than two decades ago.
And it worked just as well.
James rebounded from the two late turnovers that cost Miami in Game 2 by scoring 22 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Hours after Dwyane Wade learned he would only be tagged with a flagrant foul from Game 2 and not a suspension, he finished with 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Chris Bosh added 15 points and three rebounds and all five Miami starters reached double figures.
The move allowed Miami to outscore Indiana 56-32 in the paint…
Miami committed a playoff franchise-low one turnover in the first half and finished with only five. James finished with none.
The Heat shot 54.5 percent against a team that finished the regular season with the NBA’s best defensive field goal percentage and also made 24 of 28 free throws. They matched the highest scoring output in a quarter during this season’s playoffs with 34, broke the franchise playoff record for points in a half (70) and fell one point short of tying the third-highest point total in a playoff game in franchise history…
David West led Indiana with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Paul George finished with 13 points and eight assists, not nearly enough to keep the Pacers perfect at home in the postseason…
Indiana opened the second half looking more like the team that had given Miami fits in Games 1 and 2. The Pacers hit back-to-back 3-pointers and got a three-point play from George Hill. When Lance Stephenson followed that with 1 of 2 free throws, the lead had been cut to 74-67.
It didn’t last.
Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press
“We were disappointed,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday of dropping Friday’s game, “and that’s where you have to embrace the competition.”
Still, few could have foreseen the number the Heat put on the scoreboard at halftime: 70.
A team that had scored 84 total points in the first halves of the series first two games simply detonated in the first half.
Like Dwyane Wade’s dunk on Roy Hibbert in the second quarter.
Like Udonis Haslem’s first six shots, each putting points on the board.
Like Chris Andersen’s first three shots, which gave him 15 consecutive playoff conversions from the field (a streak he would extend to 16 in the second half on his 4-of-4 night).
Heck even Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer to end the second quarter and give the Heat a franchise record for points in any playoff half, his first points in three visits to Indiana this season, having missed his first 11 shots of the season at the Fieldhouse.
“What we talked about in the locker room,” Spoelstra said, “was tonight was a team win.”
Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel