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Heat/Pacers Game 6 preview: Indiana must get back to scoring to stay alive

Jun 1, 2013, 12:29 PM EDT

Heat's James and Pacers' Stephenson prepare to play during the fourth quarter in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference Final basketball playoff series in Indianapolis Reuters

After four games where the Pacers owned the offensive glass, got to the free throw line and used those things to score on the Heat at a shocking rate, Game 5 was a radical departure.

Indiana grabbed the offensive rebound on just 18.8 percent of their missed shots (it had been 39.9 percent for the first four games) as Miami made a point of putting multiple bodies near the glass. The Heat rebounded like a pack.

After getting to the line an average of 35 times a game the first four games, Indiana got just 15 free throws in Game 5.

Miami switched up its pick-and-roll defense, not trapping with their big men but rather working to get back and cut off passes to the post out of that play.

And, after a decent first half with those techniques, they cranked up the pressure in the final 24 minutes, using their athleticism to disrupt.

The result was 13 Indiana points in the third quarter, an offensive rating of just 90 points per 100 possessions (it had been 11.6 through four games) and a Pacers loss. While we all were focused on LeBron dominating on offense it was the Miami defense that was the unsung key to Miami’s Game 5 win and a 3-2 series lead.

And that defense is the big key to Game 6: can the Pacers get back to scoring enough to beat the Heat?

The Pacers’ defense will do its part — even if LeBron James can essentially be a trump card to that for stretches — but it is the offense that is the question mark. If Miami’s aggressive defense can keep the Pacers to 79 points again, this series is over.

Part of that is going to have to come from George Hill and Lance Stephenson, the guard pair that was 2-of-11 for 5 points in Game 5. Miami’s strategy involved at times pulling guards in to front bigger players (just for a second while Chris Bosh or Chris Andersen recovered), there is room for Hill and Stephenson to exploit that and they did not. They must.

Indiana also will need big games from its big men — Roy Hibbert and David West need to be on the glass, Paul George needs to be setting guys up and getting his. They all need to be aggressive and getting to the line.

Indiana has an added size advantage with Andersen suspended for the game. They have to take advantage.

I think you will see better Pacers offense. Not great, but better.

Can Miami outscore them? You can bet on LeBron James having another great game, the question again is will he get help. Dwyane Wade will do what he can, but he is grounded by his knee injury. Chris Bosh is going to have to have his best game of the series. Then somebody else needs to step up, too — Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem maybe. Although what Miami really could use is Ray Allen or Shane Battier knocking down threes. The offense from those two has been missed.

Expect a close game in this one. And as Phil Jackson is fond of saying, close games can turn of a trifle. Those kinds of games can go either way. We will see if the desperation of Indiana will be enough to force a Game 7.

  1. davidly - Jun 1, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    A lot of what you say is true, but the reason Indiana didn’t get to the line in Game 5, I think, is because it became clear early that the refs were not calling it tight, so they adjusted accordingly–one might say mistakenly–but unless you’re on the court, it’s hard to know. Either way, they do need to take it to the hole. But, damn, that’s true with any team.

  2. dolphindubs - Jun 1, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    @davidly

    It apparently isn’t just about getting in the paint to get more free throw attempts because Miami has actually outscored Indiana in the paint this series yet are far behind them in free throw attempts.

    Which doesnt matter for Miami anyways because they cant hit their free throws, but still….

  3. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Game 6, Eastern Conference Finals. Those 5 words describe the day everything changed. When the Heat learned what it truly takes. This series is 1976 Sugar Ray Leonard v. 1974 George Foreman. Leonard’s the better boxer, but Foreman is just so damn big and strong. Tough tough matchup. But Ibtjink the Heat remembers what it takes.

    The 4th win is the toughest

    • scorp16 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Hagler v Leonard
      Foreman v Ali

      Smart and quick wins every time

  4. scorp16 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Hopefully Spo gets a little creative here. Don’t want to see just a swap of J Anthony for Bird’s minute. There is a lineup he hasn’t used yet and that would be LeBron, Allen, Miller, Bosh and Lewis. Yeah I know I’m not asking Lewis to take over the playoffs but a 15 minute 7 point 3 rebound game is do-able. You get a ton of spacing because West has to move out to guard Lewis who can hit the three. Hibbert has to come out on Bosh. Frees the lane for James. You get 2 6’10″ players 2 at 6’8″ and Allen is your smallest at 6’5. Although not an extremely physical lineup it gives you some size and a whole lot of shooting.

  5. reedme16 - Jun 1, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    @Spo16

    Been beggin for that lineup, but I would rather see Chalmers or Cole out there instead of Allen. Both can penetrate and hit the three. If your going to open the lanes you need another option to attack the basket besides Lebron

    • scorp16 - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      I hear ya. But believe it or not…In that scenario Bosh becomes the attack center. Spread it. Bring Hibbert out make West go deep and then Hibbert’s speed all of the sudden becomes an issue…. just sayin……

      All depends on Chris’ ankle though….. Bosh can’t bang with Hibbert…. But he is a lot quicker – if you can get Hibbert out of position.

  6. jzone954 - Jun 1, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    I really hope the supporting cast of the Heat pick it up tonight. They , as defending champs should relish this moment and know there one win away from the nba finals. As my man Santana Moss said back at the days of UM “Big time players, make big time plays, in big time games”……..most of the basketball world is rooting against you Miami and hopes nothing more for LeBron to fail……lets get it done. Either way…….Christ is still KING. peace

  7. jzone954 - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Scorp. I agree. I just believe Vogel is telling Hibbert not to fall for it and stay down low and they will live with Bosh and Miami taking jumpers. That’s being said. Miami has to be on.

    • scorp16 - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      Well said. If they don’t make make the open jumpers it won’t matter and we will be blogging on Game 7 instead of Game 1.

  8. gotampabay52 - Jun 1, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Go Heat

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