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Heat take over first place in the East with win over Pacers

Apr 11, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

LeBron James, David West LeBron James, David West

The Pacers have been struggling mightily as of late, but their stated season-long goal of finishing the regular season with the best record in the East was still within reach of being accomplished.

Had Indiana won in Miami on Friday, the team would have been on the verge of wrapping that up with only a few games left. But the top spot is now up for grabs after the Heat scored a convincing 98-86 victory, one that put them a game up in the loss column on Indiana for first place in the Conference standings.

Miami was without Dwyane Wade once again, as the team continues to proceed cautiously with him before the postseason begins. It didn’t matter, however, because LeBron James was in attack mode from the very start, scoring 10 of his team’s first 12 points and finishing with a game-high of 36 on 11-of-20 shooting.

Indiana trailed by just three at halftime, but Miami used a 20-2 run to blow things open at the start of the third, as the Pacers went six minutes before making their first field goal of the second half.

When Indiana pushed the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, Roy Hibbert was a big reason why. He averaged better than 22 points per game in that series, but managed just five points and one rebound on 2-of-7 shooting in 34 minutes of action in this one.

Hibbert’s inside presence on both ends of the floor had historically been a matchup nightmare for the Heat; with him being reduced to a non-factor, the Pacers simply aren’t well enough equipped to deal with the problems this Heat team poses.

Miami has three games left — at Atlanta, at Washington, and home against the Sixers. Indiana, meanwhile, hosts the Thunder on Sunday before ending the season on Wednesday against the Magic.

The Heat seem to be in the driver’s seat with regards to securing home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Pacers, however, appear to have much bigger issues that still need to be sorted out.

  1. prareedoggin - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    The Pacers looked great out there tonight. The Heat should be worried….

    • bballhistorian - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      Heat didn’t have Wade tonight. So it’s actually the Pacers who should be worried…

      • pputnam100 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        he was kidding, I think; or just drunk, trying to ease the pain of his team falling apart at a really bad time…

      • casualcommenter - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:18 AM

        He’s a Heat fan (He’s the guy on here who frequently predicts Carmelo will be joining the Heat this offseason), so he’s being sarcastic when praising the Pacers.

      • pphins4life12 - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:28 AM

        Don’t be an idiot.. it’s called sarcasm

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    That game, my friends, was very enjoyable.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:27 AM

      But don’t you kind of want the 2-seed with the 1-seed playing either Nets or Bulls in round 2? Well, the Bulls just jumped Toronto so maybe it’s not so simple…

  3. bballhistorian - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    In my opinion, LeBron should be co-MVP with Durant this season. Everyone wants Durant to win, but the numbers LeBron has been putting up lately are crazy.

    • kinggw - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:27 AM

      I think you’re right on all accounts. I think it may benefit the Heat if LBJ doesn’t win the MVP. He may have publicly conceded it but it’s also clear he thinks he’s the real MVP. A pissed off LeBron is not something opponents want to see.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:20 AM

      If the East weren’t significantly weaker than the West, I’d agree.

      However, Durant leading OKC to 58 wins playing in the Western Conference without Russell Westbrook for a lot of games is more impressive than LeBron leading the Heat to 54 wins playing in the Eastern Conference without Dwyane Wade.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:22 AM

        Also, looking at the numbers, Durant is scoring more and rebounding more than LeBron this year, and he’s averaging almost as many assists per game as LeBron.

        While LeBron’s field goal percentage is higher, Durant shoots more 3-point attempts. Using effective field goal percentage to take that into account, LeBron and Durant are virtually tied in terms of scoring efficiency, but Durant is scoring more.

        LeBron has been excellent this season, but Durant will win MVP fair and square. Again, the Eastern conference is terrible this year.

      • eventhorizon04 - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:32 AM

        I’m a Heat fan. OKC’s season has been more impressive than the Heat’s. Westbrook has missed more games than Wade, the Thunder are relying on inexperienced guys like Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb to be major contributors, and they’re winning tougher games in the Western Conference.

        I think LeBron’s the best player in the NBA, but his season hasn’t been better than Durant’s, and due to voter fatigue, he needed to be better than Durant to win again.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:40 AM

        Thanks. Again, Durant’s numbers are as good or better than LeBron’s if you use effectivefield goal percentage to factor in Durant’s 3-point shooting, and Westbrook has missed more time than Wade, and OKC has been more successful playing in the much tougher conference.

        The math of the situation is clear, which is why LeBron more or less endorsed Durant as MVP. Anyways, he’s at the point where additional regular season MVPs don’t mean as much to his legacy as additional Finals MVPs, which are the main goal.

      • kclanton80 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        Lets not forget that KD still got to play 30 games against the east and Lebron 30 against the west. It’s not as if you only play against your own conference. Also, the heat have to take everyone’s best shot on a nightly basis because everyone wants to beat the champs. Miami’s role players have also slipped considerably this season and LBJ often looks like he is back in Cleveland. That said, im ok with KD getting mvp.

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        Actually LeBron’s achievement is more impressive if you take seriously the constant running down of the Heat roster that goes on here – DWade is past it, Bosh is soft, the bench is a bunch of reclamation projects, etc etc (except when the topic is Spo’s coaching, when suddenly anyone could win with such a loaded roster). Of course if the Heat roster were as bad as some say, they would not have been in the last three finals, winning twice, so we have to accept that it’s not all about LeBron, any more than it’s all about KD. Each has had a terrific year; it’s hard to offer anything definitive when the criteria for the award are so fuzzy. They’re good friends, and that has to take the edge off for whichever loses out. And it’s not like this is the last chance for either of them, when they work out together every summer. The LeBron-KD relationship is something that true basketball fans appreciate and enjoy.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        What’s interesting to me is that Wade has only played in 51 games this season….Westbrook has played 44 but he’s had recent surgeries on his injured knee. This has to be a sign that Wade might be closer to being done than not.

      • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        @casualcommenter – Good point! The LeBron is probably the best player in the NBA for his skill sets and the physical nightmare he is defensively, but what Durant has done this season as the sole focus on offense with OKC is beyond impressive. If MVP is MOST Valuable Player, that designation really belongs to Durant.

    • pantsfreezone - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:05 AM

      Nah. Durant has put up historic numbers. LeBron leads in eFG% and TrueFG%, but Durant has been on a tear.

      Give Durant his MVP trophy, LeBron and Co. will take another Larry O and the Finals MVP.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:32 AM

        LeBron has put up even more historic numbers.

      • bballhistorian - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:58 AM

        Id love to see OKC vs Miami in this yrs finals. Its only fitting…

      • sportsfan18 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:50 AM

        antistratfordian

        LeBron’s PER this season is below 30. In 4 out of his last 5 seasons his per was above 30. He was the league MVP each of these 4 seasons.

        The one season in the past 5 yrs his PER was NOT 30 or above, he did NOT win the league MVP.

        He will NOT win the league MVP this season as his PER is under 30 and Durant’s is above 30.

        So LeBron’s info will then be 4 out of his last 6 seasons his PER was above 30 and he won the league MVP all 4 of those yrs. He will not have won the league MVP the two yrs out of the last 6 seasons where his PER was below 30.

        Let’s look closer at LeBron’s stats this yr shall we?

        LeBron’s rebounds are down from last season. LeBron’s assists are down from last season. LeBron’s steals and blocks are down from last season.

        LeBron is committing more fouls this year than last yr though. LeBron is committing more turnovers per game this year than last season.

        Has he improved in other stats? Yes he has but one can’t really say he’s putting up even MORE historic numbers than Durant or compared to himself.

        Heck his rebound numbers are the lowest they have been for him in the past 6 seasons. His number of blocks on defense is the LOWEST of his career.

        Durant IS the MVP this season, not LeBron (who IS still the best player in the NBA).

        Durant has had the better season.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:00 AM

      The numbers LeBron has been putting up all season have been crazy.

      James is top 3 in scoring, top 11 in assists, top 4 in field goal percentage, top 15 in steals. Only player in the league leading his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, threes and field goal percentage while ALSO being his team’s best defender! I could go on and on… I could talk about his record breaking season statistically, etc… the first player in history to put up his numbers… but I digress.

      He’s carried his team to a top seed dealing with 19 different starting lineups (!!!), #WithoutWade for 28 games, and all without a 1st Team All-Defensive teammate like Serge Ibaka (who again leads the league in total blocks). And also remember that KD and OKC held the #1 spot for a long time in the West – then lost it and never got it back.

      Durant is rightfully going to lose some support if Miami ends up with the #1 seed in the East (he should lose that support anyway). There’s a lot more to get into with the MVP debate, but the argument for LeBron is rock solid.

    • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM

      Didn’t know MVP was just about numbers

      • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        @money2long – It really isn’t about the numbers, and Durant has been a one man wrecking crew for OKC with Westbrook out. Wade and Bosh have been there for most of the season, so I’m inclined to give the MVP to Durant this season.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:16 PM

        @redbaronx – One man wrecking crew? Serge Ibaka is a 2x 1st Team All-Defensive player who has played in every game but one and leads the league in total blocks for the 4th year in a row. LeBron is the only All-Defensive player on his team.

        Wade has only played in 6 more games than Westbrook – and unlike Westbrook, Wade missed all of the games for this stretch run.

        LeBron is the best defender on his team while leading it in points, rebounds, assists, steals and threes – he leads the league in RPM, top 2 in PER, top 2 in Win Share, top 3 in scoring, top 4 in field goal percentage, top 11 in assists, top 16 in steals (no one else in the league is top 16 in all of those categories). LeBron James is the historic epitome of the “one man wrecking crew.”

      • money2long - Apr 13, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        Does that one man wrecking crew statement apply to what you let him do to your vag ?

  4. whitehothoops89 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    One of the best performances by LBJ all year. He probably won’t win the MVP considering that he seemingly conceded the trophy this past week to Durant. However, this was an MVP performance. Now the Pacers v OKC game is a must win game for the Pacers if they want to garner the #1 seed. Should they not win the Heat would only have to win 2 out of 3 to clinch and the sixers game should be a gimme.

    • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      Funny. People giving lebron praise after tonight are the same ones who said the pacers hAve gone to shiit

      • kinggw - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        You do realize that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive, don’t you? LBJ could have a good game and the Pacers can still be in the process of falling apart.

      • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Lol
        ???????
        What the hell are u saying
        The point is that those saying the pacers ARE falling apart are chanting MVP after doibg what he did against a team that u say is Fallin apart. Pay attention lmao

      • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        @money2long – You made your case even worse when you replied to kinggw. If the Pacers are falling apart, it doesn’t make LeBrons effort look BETTER. It just means the Pacers are in a sorry state right now and he’s playing well against a team that really isn’t clicking right now. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

      • money2long - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:32 AM

        So looking like Hercules against a hobbled man is something to praise ?
        I don’t get your stance against what I’m saying

        U make no sense !

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Should be, but tonight’s game isn’t. When I first saw the season schedule, with the Heat having so many back-to-backs late in the season, I wondered whether that would work in the Heat’s favor in terms of intense playoff prep, or more the other way. I guess we’ll find out.

  5. miamatt - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Udonis Haslem is the Pacer-killer.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:24 AM

      Agreed. For all the press Greg Oden has gotten, Haslem has been far more effective than Oden on both ends of the floor than Oden.

      Oden has better size, but he’s not as savvy a low-post defender as Haslem, and he can’t hit mid-range jumpers or run the court like Haslem can (yet).

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:39 AM

        Oden got all the press because of the problems the Heat had had the year before with Hibbert, followed up by the Pacers’ off-season additions. But it’s looking now like Bynum isn’t the Pacers’ only head case at center. Coming so soon after the Atlanta benching, this is not what the Pacers need from Hibbert for the playoffs. Did anyone here see this coming? Does anyone here get what is going on in Hibbert’s head? I sure don’t.

  6. jbeagles23 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    The pacers are horrendous on offence

    • eventhorizon04 - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:37 AM

      They were never able to adapt after Paul George’s shooting numbers came back down to Earth.

      They need a real point guard who can penetrate and break down a defense.
      George Hill poops his pants at the sight of traps and doesn’t even try to split the double teams.
      He just gives up and passes the ball to George or Stephenson.

  7. nfl4days - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    1 rebound and 2/7 from a 7’2 center is inexcusable. LeBron scored right in his face a couple of times down the stretch. Nate Robinson plays bigger and tougher at 5’9. Hibbert shouldmbe ashamed.

  8. boutdatlife305 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    Like we always do about this time !!! Win,Win,Win !!! U know it (305) .

  9. antistratfordian - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    MVP! MVP! MVP!

    • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      My vàgina’s painful ?
      Is lebron hitting it too hard ?
      That was TMI bro. TMI….

      • antistratfordian - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        lol. I always suspected that you had a vag… nothing else could explain your pmsing.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 13, 2014 at 5:37 AM

      Nobody wants to see LeBron pile up trophies more than me… but isn’t it fairly obvious that Durant is the MVP? He has finally hit that level where he’s making others better and you just know his team will play at an elite level as long as he’s healthy. And he has hit that level at the same age LeBron did, 25. Not saying he has the passing, dribbling, or defensive skills LeBron has… but he’s scored like a maniac this season and carried his team to a 2-seed in a tough conference without a healthy Westbrook.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 13, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        LeBron hit that level at age 20 so I don’t know where you get age 25 from. LeBron was 25 during his last year in Cleveland, and he had already started playing beyond Durant’s current level years before that.

        But no, it isn’t “fairly obvious” at all. In fact, his argument is weaker than LeBron’s.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 13, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Correction: LeBron hit that level at age 24, his second to last season in Cleveland. Mo Williams isn’t the reason they jumped up 21 wins in 2008-09; LeBron took Mike Brown’s lessons on defense to heart and started controlling both ends of the floor. Then he averaged 38-8-8 against Orlando in the ECF but there wasn’t enough help or anybody that could handle Dwight Howard. Okay look, Durant might never reach that level of dominance.

      LeBron’s last season as a Cavalier was my favorite regular season of his career. He averaged 8.6 assists, 30 points, recorded about 40 amazing chase down blocks and just willed his team to 60 wins. All I’m saying is that Durant has done more this season. LeBron is playing as little defense as possible right now; likely saving the good stuff for the playoffs. The Heat have not had a 27-game win streak or any notable stretch of dominance. It’s not that LeBron hasn’t put up his typical incredible stats.. it’s just that Durant has put up better numbers with Westbrook hurt or hobbled, and Perkins, Adams, Lamb, 90yo Derek Fisher are logging serious minutes. That’s a big load to carry and he’s crushing it.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        No. LeBron was a more complete player at age 20 than Durant is now. What LeBron was at 24, Durant isn’t even there yet. He may never get there.

  10. cruelintentions662 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    Notice the trolls are not bashing the Heats tonight.

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM

      Give them time. They always come. I’m thinking maybe tomorrow morning after they lick their wounds and think of witty reasons as to why the Heat are overrated or how Durant is still the MVP.

      • jollyjoker2 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:40 AM

        San a had the heat last year and couldn’t put the stake in. 1 free throw away by some weak minded fool and a coach that sits Duncan. Pacers are aways away unless they can figure out a way to pound it.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:26 AM

        …Durant still is the MVP. The Thunder are going to finish with more wins than the Heat despite playing in the far tougher Western Conference and despite Russell Westbrook missing more games than Dwyane Wade.

        Durant beats LeBron in scoring and rebounding, nearly ties him in assists per game, and he ties LeBron in effective field goal percentage. LeBron has been great, but Durant’s season has been better when you factor in the superior strength of the Western Conference, which simply isn’t debatable.

    • trevor123698 - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:44 AM

      the trolls are the idiots who like the heat.

    • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      Lolol. This reminds me of heat fans praising lebron after destroying the bobcats after discrediting MELO for doing the same. Heat fans have all but dismissed the pacers. Yet when lebron has a good game against them it’s MVP time and stick it in other people’s faces time. Lol double standard heat fans never amaze me.

      Ps. Someone should call Beasley. Where’s he been ?

  11. prareedoggin - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    Lol I was being sarcastic im a Miami fan

  12. jollyjoker2 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:37 AM

    pacers need to take LeBron out at the knees…worked for New Orleans in the NFL…Just sayn, if they want to get over the hump.

    • Miami305 - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      Don’t even joke like that joker or you’ll get taken out at the knees.

  13. seattlesuperchronic - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    1972

    I thought you weren’t coming back until after the season?

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:03 AM

      Lost 3 in a row after my “retirement” so I had to come back for the sake of the team.

  14. prareedoggin - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:06 AM

    Casual, now that Phil Jackson is running the show my Carmelo prediction isn’t looking good anymore lol

  15. davidly - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:13 AM

    The power went out last night at halftime and, boy, am I glad it did. I didn’t expect Indiana to win, but hoped they would. Heat got a tough one in Atlanta tonight, Pacers a tough one at home vs Ok City Sunday. Those, as much as last night will decide the first seed.

  16. davidly - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:16 AM

    By the way, does NBA TV do the worst game coverage or what?

  17. 00maltliquor - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:33 AM

    7″2 and in 34 minutes of the most important game of the regular season against your biggest rival……Roy Hibbert, kill yo’self (take it easy, it’s just an expression).

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 12, 2014 at 2:35 AM

      *and only ONE rebound…

      • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:11 AM

        Yet heat fans are joyous over the win lol

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        Just like you would have been joyous over a Heat loss.

      • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        Are they still the heat ?
        Ur comparing a heat loss to a pacers loss ? After hearing all the talk about three pacers the last month ?
        And I’m not gonna address that “I’ll be joyous remark”

      • money2long - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        These *

  18. Jeff - Apr 12, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    The Pacers don’t have any answer for any team that’s heading to the playoffs.

  19. jbeagles23 - Apr 12, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    People keep talking down about hibbert but how about the fact George hill didn’t take a shot or have a single point? He is the weakest link on that team

    • kinggw - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      I respectfully disagree about George Hill. He isnt a traditional point guard, but he’s a pretty good defender and shoots the 3 at a 37% clip. He is who they thought he was. Hibbert on the other hand is an all star who didn’t show up. If he doesn’t get early easy buckets, he turns into a non-factor. Hill is a borderline starter, the Pacers aren’t looking for him to be a big contributor. Hibbert was ineffective and unlike the first game in Miami this season, foul trouble isn’t to blame. More importantly for the Pacers it appears that Bynum may not be the only malcontent on that team.

      • redbaronx - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        @kinggw – It isn’t just Hibbert and people shouldn’t be pointing at Hibbert. The Pacers as a unit are not playing well and they seem to be frustrated internally with each other from their post-game interviews. I think the Pacers need a locker room pow-wow like the Heat had before their first banner after some of their internal melt downs. That locker room needs to be aired out.

  20. cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    Watching them lose game 7 at home & the bandwagoners leaving early is going to be priceless.

    • leahcima1 - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      Cantonjek0 to the best of my recollection you have a very big mouth before the games are played and afterwards you just disappear. Poof, like fairy dust in a light wind, you’re gone. You’ve been saying the same thing for two years and have been wrong for two years. Maybe you should try another sport. There are no $$$ restrictions in baseball and teams can buy a winning season. Yes, that’s it. Go somewhere where you can pick a team that buys a winner every year. Maybe if you could experience how it feels to win one you wouldn’t be such an a**hole. I’d finish the rest of this note but I’ve got to leave early and get out in the Gulf Stream before the fishies turn in for the night. LOL

      • jimeejohnson - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        CantonPeaBrainLoserPunk: PED’s!

      • leahcima1 - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        Well said jimeejohnson. Couldn’t have nailed it any better myself. Basketball has an MVP, 6th man, ect. I nominate contonjerk0 as a**hole of the year.

      • pacersfan1 - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:31 PM

        Dude I would say by some of the post you put out there. You are a sad person that sits in his bedroom and in some Midwestern town wishing you lived in south beach. Just like most heat fans. Faaakeee!

      • cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        Reading your posts are not only a waste of time but they actually make me feel sorry for the Dade county school system.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      Like last year when you peabrain punk losers watched the Heat lose game 7 and you had a chance to celebrate. Right, New Yawk a$$hole!

      • cantonbound13 - Apr 12, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        Stay classless trailer trash.

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