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Heat hit self-destruct button, Pacers steamroll to Game 3 win

May 17, 2012, 11:13 PM EDT

Miami Heat's Wade walks during their NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff against Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis Reuters

The Miami Heat self-destructed, and Dwyane Wade hit the button.

Wade, the 2006 finals MVP, was 2-for-13 shooting and had words with coach Erik Spoelstra as the Heat came apart at the seams and fell to a Pacers team growing in confidence with every minute. Game 3 finished 94-75 — which is pretty reflective of how the game went — and the Pacers lead the Eastern Conference semifinals series 2-1.

The Pacers are in the Miami players’ heads, and you have to wonder if the Heat can get them out of there before Game 4. The Heat hesitate with decisions, seem to be looking over their shoulder, and their confidence is shaken. Meanwhile, the Pacers have Danny Granger and George Hill knocking down 3-pointers and Roy Hibbert scoring 19 and owning the paint.

Most fans — and apparently the Heat players — did not realize before this series how good the Pacers were. They do now.

What nobody expected was for the Heat to buckle at the first sign of adversity. Especially not Wade, who was minus-19 and jawed with his coach during the blowout. After the game in his news conference, Spoelstra blew off the incident.

“Anybody who hasn’t been part of a team, been a coach, been a player, you have no idea how often things like that happen,” Spoelstra said. “It was during a very emotional part of the game, we were getting our butt kicked. Those exchanges happen all the time during the course of an NBA season… that was nothing, the least of our concerns.”

Which is good, because the Heat have a plethora of concerns.

Without Chris Bosh setting the picks and spacing the floor, the Miami offense has become a muddled mess. That’s not all about Bosh, that’s about how the Heat responded to adversity. They shot 37 percent as a team, 20 percent from three.

LeBron James played well early, but like the rest of the Heat faded as the game went on, finishing with 22 points on 22 shots. He could not take over and turn the tide. He was so unimpressive, Lance Stephenson was giving him the choke sign from the bench.

The death throes of a coach in a series often come when they start to look deep down the bench for a spark from a matchup that hasn’t really worked for them all season. This game Spoelstra switched up the starting lineup to put Dexter Pittman and Shane Battier in it. Yes, Pittman.

It is another sign that the Heat are in serious, serious trouble in this series, to go with arguing on the bench, the muddled offense, the inability to hit 3-pointers and general bad play.

The Pacers are far the better team right now. It’s not close. If the Heat didn’t have the guys who should be the two best players in the series on their side, we would be calling this thing over. Maybe we should anyway.

113 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. daniel10017 - May 18, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    If the Heat lose Sunday to go down 3-1, then I think we will see an unprecedented event: They may fire coach Spoelstra Sunday night and Pat Riley may come back to coach in a desperate attempt to win the series.

    • redblue560 - May 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM

      It would look bad for Miami if they fire Spoelstra in the middle of this. Maybe after the season if they come up empty again, but who would you get ? No coach in their right mind will step into this trio of a mess unless you bring in a strong supporting cast. A coach with a strong personality that can put superstar egos in check and get them to listen how to play together every game.

      This is about everyone contributing to the effort at their best, taking a back seat so others can lead is not at your best. I think James and Wade have not figured this out, maybe Bosh already did that is why his absence is a big deal for Miami to overcome.

      • lucky5934 - May 18, 2012 at 5:56 PM

        If they lose this year, then they really need to bring in a coach who can maximize the talents of these guys. I personally like Spoelstra, but as long as the Heat continue to under perform, he will always be the scapegoat. Phil Jackson is the best option out there and knows how to get the most out of diva like players. If he can not get a championship or two out of them, then no one will. Meanwhile he gets to pad a stellar legacy.

  2. dogpound216 - May 18, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    i believe after “the decision” there was talk of multiple championships..i think there has got to be one before multiple hahaha..yes im a cavs fan and i love seeing labronda fail

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