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For a night Heat solve Pacers’ rebounding, defensive puzzle

May 31, 2013, 12:27 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Getty Images

For four games the Pacers offense had been fueled by offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line. Those plays and the surprising success of the Pacers offense — averaging 111.6 points per 100 possessions — had the series tied 2-2.

In Game 5 things were different.

Indiana had just six offensive rebounds, grabbing the rebound on just 18.8 percent of their missed shots (compared to 39.9 percent combined in the first four games).

The Pacers had 15 free throws in Game 5, well behind the 35 a game they had averaged in the first four games.

The result of all that (along with the Pacers turning the ball over 20.5 percent of their possessions) was just 79 Pacers’ points — or 90.2 points per 100 possessions, if you prefer — and that’s not going to be enough for Indiana to win. Now Miami is up 3-2 in the series and Indiana has a huge mountain to climb to reach the Finals.

“It’s two contrasting styles,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said after the game in trying to describe the series. “If our pressure, speed, quickness doesn’t get to their size, their size will get to us. We learned that the hard way.”

Speed killed on Thursday.

Miami came out from the start with a focus on defensive rebounding. They did it as a team using that quickness and athleticism — LeBron James led the Heat with 8 defensive rebounds, Chris Bosh had 5 and both Dwyane Wade and Chris Andersen had 4. The Heat don’t have a dominant rebounder, they have to do it as a pack and did in this game.

Andersen and Udonis Haslem were more physical with Roy Hibbert on the block, also the Heat doubled Hibbert and that made it harder for the big man to get his own rebounds.

“They made a concerted effort to send to me when I went to the offensive glass,” Hibbert said in his post-game press conference. “I couldn’t create as many offensive putbacks as I wanted to. It’s a credit to them adjusting on the fly.”

Hibbert, David West and Paul George carried the Pacers — they had 66 of their 79 points. But the easy putback buckets went away.

And they got no help from the starting backcourt — Lance Stephenson and George Hill were 2-of-11 for 5 points.

In the second half, the Heat really cranked up their ball pressure, and that bothered the Pacers — outside of George, the Pacers shot 31.8 percent. Miami was forcing turnovers (9 in the second half) and turning those into fast break points. It was the best defensive half of the series by Miami.

“In the second half we played much more aggressively and true to our identity,” Spoelstra said.

Miami’s aggression exposed Pacer flaws, for example they can have some terrible post entry passes. Under pressure those became turnovers. Also, with George Hill on the sidelines with foul trouble D.J. Augustin was exposed. The result of all of it was long possessions deep into the clock for Indiana then there would be a rushed and contested shot.

The Pacers will be at home where their role players will be more comfortable in Game 6 — and they are going to need a lot more out of them. Because the Heat are going to bring that same pressure to try and close the series out.

  1. jbeagles23 - May 31, 2013 at 6:52 AM

    You can see when the going gets tough the pacers really have no one to lean on. West is really overrated if Hibbert is your go to than you’re in trouble and George just isn’t there yet. Taking him from guarding James wa a weak move by Indy

    • lucky342112 - May 31, 2013 at 7:07 AM

      Then I guess Lebron is weak too because he rarely guards George on the other end. Both teams consistently cross-match. If West is over-rated so much why are his stats through the roof In the last 2 mins of close games. His game may not be pretty but with a PER of nearly 22 it’s extremely productive.

  2. hehateme2 - May 31, 2013 at 7:24 AM

    Don’t know why the Heat doesn’t play like this every game. They are clearly the superior team.

    • fanofevilempire - May 31, 2013 at 7:49 AM

      everyone points out the Heat have no height and don’t rebound well and that is true,
      but they have this ability to over come these problems with smart play and having the
      best player in the league making unselfish plays, along with that guy in the # 3 jersey
      who despite having bad wheels can hit you with a (forearm)- sequence of heads up
      plays andball scoring and Bosh will bring Hibs out to the perimeter and LeBron dunks.
      the Heat are very good as a team.

    • borderline1988 - May 31, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      It’s hard to play with that energy for 48 minutes..If the Heat cranked up the defensive pressure like that starting in the 1rst quarter, they’d be exhausted in the 4th.

      These 2 teams have completely different styles, but are otherwise evenly matched, unless Miami decides to turn up the defensive pressure. Then Miami is clearly the better team b/c the Pacers ballhandlers cannot handle the Miami’s big, strong, athletic guards.

      This Miami team is not built to blow teams out. They grind teams out, and then win in the 4th by turning up the defensive pressure and giving the ball to Lebron on offense.

    • jimmymackey - May 31, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      I have been there for the Heat since the beginning, but this is darn good basketball even if they don’t win, hehateme2. I know with so many can’t miss games on TV lately, I can’t see them all, but I like that my DISH Game Finder app on my Hopper DVR gives me reminders of games and where to watch them. I usually end up in a conversation with someone at my job at DISH, so I like to be up to date with what’s going on in the NBA. Even when I’m watching something else I get the scores right on my screen while they change.

  3. mungman69 - May 31, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    Pacer starting guards scored 5 points, had 6 turnovers and committed 10 fouls.

  4. reedme16 - May 31, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Spo is getting outcoached regardless of the outcome. A lot of this is due to the Pacers just playing out of their minds and hitting shots they don’t normally hit, but Spo is struggling. It seriously took the Heat that long to start doubling Hibbert? Crazy. Hopefully Wade and Bosh can pull out one solid game so the Heat can end this series in 6. Last year Miami went into Indy and put on a shooting clinic. Hopefully we can repeat that performance.

  5. jbeagles23 - May 31, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Guess what? A game is 48 minutes long so who cares what his per is in the last 2 minutes. Dude is soft

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