Miami’s Game 5 win puts the Heat in the brink of a third straight NBA Finals trip. On the other hand, Indiana’s loss puts the Pacers in the brink of Playoff extinction.
Lebron James played like a man possessed in Miam’s momentum-shifting 90-79 Game 5 win to put the Heat within a win of arranging a Finals date with the waiting San Antonio Spurs.
The 28-year-old James, no doubt, came up with an MVP-performance again that made the Pacers look more like a high school basketball team in the second half.
Now, the Heat will try to end the series at the Pacers’ home floor two days from now, a win that could enhance the Heat’s back-to-back NBA title aspirations.
James sure did his share of damage, though the X-factor for the series remains to be veteran undersized power forward Udonis Haslem, who finished the game with 16 points.
The 6’8” Haslem shot eight-of-nine overall in Game 5, with his baskets mostly coming from jump shots that easily broke the will of the Pacers in the pivotal game of the series.
Now, the Pacers face the herculean task of winning back-to-back games against the Heat, who have yet to lose consecutive games since January.
Quite honestly, I think the Pacers lost their focus when James went on a third quarter tear. Even Indiana center Roy Hibbert was silent offensively for most part of the second half, after starting the first half with 14. He finished the game with 22 points and just six rebounds.
For Indiana to at least forge a Game 7, the boys of coach Frank Vogel must be play controlled basketball.
Game 5 stats revealed that the Pacers turned the ball over 17 times, with Paul George (27 points and 11 rebounds), accounting for five, while playmaker George Hill, Lance Stephenson and Hibbert adding three each.
The Heat only had 10 turnovers, which means the Pacers threw seven big opportunities to score.
That Game 5 loss is no doubt a bitter pill to swallow. But how the Pacers respond from this type of loss on Sunday will eventually reveal if Indiana has the intestinal fortitude to bounce back against Miami.
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