Heat Take Game 5, 90-79

Heat vs Pacers
Udonis Haslem scored 16 points in Game 5. (Photo Credit: Isaac Baldizon/Getty Images)

This series has been defined, in large part, by dominance. Indiana has dominated the glass, holding a +42 edge in rebounding heading into Game 5, and controlled the middle. Through much of the first half, Indiana used their height and length to their advantage yet again, beating up Miami’s frontcourt and building a 44-40 lead going into halftime. The Pacers netted the first basket of the third quarter, but the Heat responded with a 7-2 run at that point. LeBron James dominated the third quarter, and after outscoring the Pacers 30-13 in the period, the Heat held on to win Game 5, 90-79.

LeBron James scored 16 points, dished four assists and grabbed four rebounds in the third quarter to help Miami take total control of both the game and the series. After the win, the Heat is now one win away from their third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

“That’s what I came here for,” LeBron James said, “to be able to compete for a championship each and every year.”

LeBron James and Udonis Haslem spurred Miami through a dominant third quarter run to seize the game. A scrum under Indiana’s basket that involved a George Hill offensive foul and technical fouls on David West, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem, seemed to spark Miami in the quarter. LeBron James buried 7-of-10 shots in the period, while Udonis Haslem netted all five of his field goal attempts for 10 points. Over that same span, the Indiana Pacers made just 3-of-14 field goal tries, managing just 13 points, six rebounds and one assist in the quarter.

“That’s LeBron showing his greatness,” said Heat head coach Erik Spolestra, “and making it look easy.”

After the game, Indiana head coach Frank Vogel was asked if there was anything a team could do when James gets on a roll like the one he was on in the third quarter.

“I don’t really know,” Vogel answered. “He was pretty special tonight. There’s no question about it.”

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Heat vs Pacers: What to Watch For in Game 5

Heat vs Pacers
Indiana outrebounded Miami 49-30 in Game 4. (Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

The narrative of their Eastern Conference Finals series continues to evole. While the Big vs Small conflict continued and the Shooters Subplot developed, the narrative received a few new voices. The officials joined the fray with some questionable calls and some obviously blown calls late in Game 4. Then a new chapter found its way into the binding when the NBA fined the Miami Heat‘s LeBron James and the Indiana Pacer‘s Lance Stephenson and David West for violating the anti-flopping rules. All this ahead of tonight’s pivotal Game 5.

“We don’t want the focus of this series to be on officiating,” Heat head coach Erik Spolestra said. “We want it to be on the competition.”

Here are a few things to watch for during tonight’s Game 5.

Adjustments

In Game 4, Indiana head coach Frank Vogel sent help early and often against LeBron James in the post. The double-teams and early help prevented James from establishing his preferred position in the paint, and kept him from getting comfortable shots. Perhaps as a result of what the Pacers were doing defensively, LeBron James shot just 1-of-6 in the post in Game 4.

One of Indiana’s defensive principles is to not “over” help, but after James ate up George in the post in Game 3, it was something they had to adjust to. If they help hard again, watch for James to look for the open shooters on the wing. One of the biggest problems of the series so far for Miami has been the performance of said shooters, as they’ve made just 3-of-22 spot-up attempts through Game 4.

“It’s going to be whatever it takes,” Erik Spolestra said of Game 5. “Everybody has to bring more tonight.”

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