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LeBron takes over, Heat take Game 5 from Pacers

May 31, 2013, 12:11 AM EDT

Miami Heat's LeBron James directs his teammates against the Indiana Pacers during the fourth quarter in Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference final basketball playoff in Miami

We can talk about Xs and Os, offense versus defense, and individual player matchups over the course of a seven game playoff series. But sometimes, it all boils down to something as simple as which team the best player in the game plays for.

That was certainly the case in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, where LeBron James overcame a lackluster first half to completely take things over in the third by scoring 16 of his 30 points in leading Miami to a 90-79 victory, and a three games to two lead in the best-of-seven series.

James is of course capable of outbursts like the one we saw in this one, but it seemed to come out of nowhere, especially considering the way he chose to play during the first half.

This had all the makings of a game that the Pacers could win, if only they could get the performances out of their stars that they did to start the game for the entire thing, and if they could just contain James while preventing him from doing exactly what he did during that game-changing third quarter.

Paul George and Roy Hibbert were both fantastic offensively in the first quarter, combining for all 23 of the Pacers’ points in the period. Indiana’s team defense was about as good as it gets, with crisp rotations that forced the Heat role players into taking the bulk of the shots. David West took his turn in the second period with 10 points of his own, and the Pacers kept defending with purpose while continuing to successfully limit Miami offensively.

The halftime break was enough for the Heat to gain focus, and it initiated with animated speeches from two of their leaders. Udonis Haslem said in his postgame press conference that Juwan Howard fired up the team in the locker room, and LeBron echoed those words in a tirade on the sidelines before the third quarter began, and then proceeded to go out and lead with his actions.

In the first half, LeBron was extremely passive offensively. There were multiple plays that saw James get into the lane with dribble penetration, only to stop short once he saw Hibbert rotating over, at which point he would kick it out to one of his teammates instead of attacking or taking makable shots. In the third quarter, James was noticeably more aggressive, hitting a series of midrange jumpers, three-pointers from distance, and shots in the paint to take control of this game.

On the rare occasions when James chose to defer in the third, Haslem was the one open when the defense collapsed. He hit baseline jumpers over and over again, and scored 10 of his 16 points in the period on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting.

There was plenty of talk about the officiating heading into this one, but there was only one play that truly stood out. It involved Chris Andersen taking two shots at Tyler Hansbrough in the second quarter, and Andersen somehow wasn’t ejected for his actions. He was given a flagrant foul, however, and the league may very well upgrade it after review in the coming days, and it wouldn’t at all be a surprise of Andersen was suspended for that crucial contest.

With or without Andersen, and no matter how little Miami gets out of guys like Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh who were both completely ineffective on this night, the Heat will be confident in knowing that they have the game’s best player on their side as they enter Game 6 one win away from a third straight trip to the NBA Finals.

Sometimes, that’s all that matters.

  1. ajx007 - May 31, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    I get the feeling that if Hanborough and Anderson were wearing opposite jerseys, the incident- which was reviewed by three officials, would have been handled much differently.

    • money2long - May 31, 2013 at 1:17 AM

      so why again is birdman getting special treatment in your opinion

      • spthegr8 - May 31, 2013 at 7:50 AM

        If LBJ is playing like he did last night. The ONLY way too stop him is too hire that guy from Happy Gilmore that Shooter Mc Gavin hired too run Happy over with that old punch buggy!! & that might not even work. I’m not a Heat fan but. IMO, Their isn’t a team out there that can beat the Heat in a 7 game series!!

      • money2long - May 31, 2013 at 8:37 AM

        in coach popovich’s opinion, i think he’ll have a different opinion than you. that’s all opinions really are in sports. opinions. if they meet, they’ll settle it on the court.

      • bils293 - May 31, 2013 at 9:56 AM

        say opinion one more time

      • money2long - May 31, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        lmao..i knew what i was doing

      • spthegr8 - May 31, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        Your right & as Herm Edwards famously stated” that why we play the game “!!

      • pacersfan1 - May 31, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        Because he plays for the heat.

      • jimmymackey - May 31, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        Who knows why he’s getting special treatment, but it is a reality and even though I’m for the Heat, it seems unfair to me as well, money2long. I’m glad though that we have 7 games now though. 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.

    • WatchThis - May 31, 2013 at 8:08 AM

      Pacers looked good last playoffs too. But, Miami’s proving that when other teams are getting gassed, they’re not. Other teams start off well in the series, and just can’t keep that energy. The Heat can. That’s the difference. That being said, the Heat’s passing is SLOPPY, and Wade extra-sloppy.

  2. angulocarlos1 - May 31, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    No player carries their team more than King James. It’s crazy how much hate this man gets. Big 3? Wade and Bosh are nothing but role players at this point.

    • dgbk - May 31, 2013 at 1:06 AM

      I agree bosh has been invisible Wade is hurt but wat is bosh excuse. I’m sure the heat didnt think they were signing a 6’11 SG when they got the big 3 together. Lebron played great pacers had no answer and looked real timid in the third qtr.

  3. funktron2x - May 31, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Which is a very bad sign I’d they continue to play that way against the Spurs.

  4. funktron2x - May 31, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    Gah. IF

  5. badintent - May 31, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    If Bosh gets anymore softer, he’s gonna make a down pillow look like a concrete block. shooting 3s is an act of a desperate man. Get in the paint, and man up.Fly like a Birdman.

  6. itsonlyaspeedbump - May 31, 2013 at 1:43 AM

    This was what? James’ 8th or 9th best career playoff performance? And still in this post and the last the Lebron haters are in force. He even did that rah-rah fire-’em-up crap in the huddle that people usually love to point to as ‘leadership’ and ‘determination’ and ‘toughness’. Still, criticism. If you’re not a Cavs fan, then I have to ask why the hate? He didnt do The Decision against YOUR team. You can not be a Heat fan (Im not), or be pissed when they win, but it sounds sooooo petty to get on the internet and post hate after every single game. (For example there is some troll on the previous post who hinted that James isnt a superstar because he let Haslim score all the points. Really? REALLY?)

    That was a terrific performance. It wasnt a performance for the ages. If the Heat lose it wont even be remembered past next week. But it was great. I appreciate great basketball no matter its source.

  7. ajx007 - May 31, 2013 at 2:26 AM

    Criticism? The last four articles were devoted to nothing but praising Lebron James.

    • itsonlyaspeedbump - May 31, 2013 at 2:46 AM

      the writers on the blog in general I think are pretty fair. They praise him for his good performances and they point it out when he spits up on himself like he did in game 2. Their coverage of James (and Howard or Kobe, really any polarizing player) is way better than the average sports blog ESPN throws up. I was talking mostly about some of the commenters.

      I guess people have the right to say what they want though, and I dont have to read the comments (sigh.)

  8. slystone111 - May 31, 2013 at 2:55 AM

    Aaaaand once again the writers of this site fall all over themselves seeing who can heap more praise upon LeBron James. Why don’t you all get a room and get it over with?

  9. jbeagles23 - May 31, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    San Antonio plays more of a heat style the. Chicago and Indy do so they can beat the heat. Size and strength doesn’t beat athletic an quick. You could see how tired the pacers were by late in the third

  10. golfrangeman - May 31, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Itsonlyaspeedbump my suggestion for you is try to ignore the haters. They obviously have some issues and insecurities within their own lives. It’s one thing to not like LeBron even though you don’t actually know him but to post stupid stuff like he sucks or he cheats or he’s the most over rated player is just ignorant. I guarantee if he was on their team they would be kissing his ass 24/7

  11. reedme16 - May 31, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    Wade is a shell of himself and Bosh is just soft. Lebron went on his run without Wade and Bosh. Spo needs to really consider playing Cole and Chalmers together some and giving Miller more minutes.

    The game was officiated fairly and Lebron played awesome. So the only argument left for haters is how weak the East is. Yea the East was supposedly weak last year too. The Heat struggled against Indy and Boston but they sweep OKC. You can only beat the Heat with great defense. Remember that Spurs fans

    • aboogy123456 - May 31, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      OKC choked last year, and there were a couple of teams in the west that could have beaten the heat because they are a better matchup. The key is to beat the heat down low, you think Perkins and Ibaka was the way to do this? The spurs will destroy the heat if they match up, just watch.

  12. golfrangeman - May 31, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Spthegr8 your dead on Miami’s not winning another championship if wade and bosh don’t step up. I guarantee LBJ is pissed about having to take over like that its not what he signed up for and even though he capable it doesn’t fit he game and is no way to win championships. If Wade can’t perform then reduce his minutes.

    • aboogy123456 - May 31, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      It’s funny because James wanted to join miami to take the easy way out, but he’s still having to do everything for them just like in Cleveland.

  13. jbeagles23 - May 31, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    The way to beat the heat is not size. Nyk were successful against then this yer playing small ball and hitting the outside shot. That’s what beats the heat

    • borderline1988 - May 31, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      The Knicks were beating EVERYONE when they were on that ridiculous 3pt shooting streak. Hell, Charlotte would beat San Antonio every time if they hit 45% of their 3s and take 30/game (Ok, maybe I exagerated a bit..).

      I’d argue that the Pacers have the perfect mix to handle the Heat, except their guards cannot handle the pressure once Miami decides to turn it up a notch. The Heat really brought the defensive energy in the 3rd by pressuring Indiana’s ballhandlers far outside the 3pt line. The result of that was Hibbert and West weren’t getting the ball in the post (in good positions) anymore. And then the offense just disappeared, except for some George jumpers and a couple of unsustainable West turnarounds.

      If Indiana had guards, they’d be able to handle the pressure, and get West the ball in the post. Miami simply cannot guard Indiana down low.

      • aboogy123456 - May 31, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        Great comment and I think it sums up why the pacers are losing better than anything I’ve read. I think George Hill is a very good player, but he doesn’t have great point guard qualities. If I were the pacers, I would try to trade Granger for the best point guard that I can get, someone who can get the ball to the right guy, take care of the freaking ball, and handle pressure better. Maybe a target could be calderon? I don’t know, but with stephenson and george commanding the ball and more money, I don’t think Granger and his contract will be as valuable to the pacers as he would be to some other team.

  14. azarkhan - May 31, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    LeBron James is simply the best. Anybody who argues otherwise is a fool.

  15. jimmymarlinsfan - May 31, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I think LeBron has reached the point in his game that he can literally will the Heat to victory. I see the Heat winning game 6 and then beating the Spurs in 5. I believe Mike Miller will get some more playing time going forward and that will be a great thing

  16. reedme16 - May 31, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Size is not the way to beat the Heat. The only team with size that give the Heat trouble is the Pacers. And that is because of defense. Only team last year that would have given the Heat trouble from the West is Memphis. And that’s because of the combination of Gay, Randolph, and Gasol. Besides Memphis No other team plays good enough defense. All of the defensive teams are in the East!

    I guarantee that the people that say LebRon took the easy way out can’t name 3 starters on the Cavs team that went to the finals. And if you happen to be able to name them, just think about if your favorite player would have even made the playoffs with the bums he played with. And Kobe may have made the playoffs with them, But they wouldn’t have went far. Remember Kobe post Shaq, pre Pau when he was trying to force a trade to Chicago. Kobe didn’t like carrying a bum team with no second option either.

  17. gostlcards5 - May 31, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Honesltly, I am just glad that the refereeing was much better in this game, so no whining either. There were only two really blatantly bad calls, in my opinion:
    – The out-of-bounds call where LBJ lost the ball with no Pacers really near him when it hit his thigh.
    – The technical call on Hansbrough (and no, I never imagined saying that “Psycho T” didn’t deserve a “T”). Based on the replays that they showed, there really wasn’t much reason to do the double-technical.

    Either way, LBJ does it again in the 3rd. Like I said, he’s the best in the world for a reason.

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