Following two incredibly close games in Miami, and creating plenty of doubters, the Heat imposed their will over the Pacers in game 3 winning 114-96 to take a 2-1 series lead. This was Miami’s first win in Indianapolis this season after being 0-2 there during the regular season. The Heat haven’t lost back to back games since January 8th through the 10th.
The Pacers are best suited in close, tough, grind it out games. Miami made sure that wouldn’t be the case in game 3. The Heat led by 14 at the half scoring 70 points, a franchise record for a playoff game.The 70 points allowed by the Pacers in the half was the most since a 1992 playoff game against the Celtics when Indiana gave up 71.
The closest the Pacers got in the 2nd half was 7 points, as the Heat were able to pull away after shooting 54 percent for the game. Indiana shot 39 percent from the field.
For the Heat, LeBron James was his usual self scoring a game high 22 points, but finally got the help he’d been desperate for. Every Heat starter scored in double figures. Chris Bosh set the tone with 10 first quarter points and finished with 15. Dwyane Wade played his best game of the series scoring 18 points while showing explosiveness his game has been lacking.
The key player for the Heat though was Udonis Haslem who was a complete non-factor in games 1 and 2 scoring a combined 3 points on 1/7 shooting. In game 3 however, Haslem was 8/9 from the field and scored 17 points. His impressive shooting was vital for the Heat because it forced Roy Hibbert out of the paint. If Haslem can continue to knock down shots, the Pacers will have to make some major defensive adjustments, especially since Hibbert isn’t very equipped to defend outside the paint.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra may have finally found his solution for neutralizing Hibbert, and that’s having Haslem and Bosh hit their outside shots, easier said than done though.
The “Birdman” Chris Anderson was once again perfect from the field. Anderson scored 9 points on 4/4 shooting and has made 16 consecutive shots. This post-season, he’s shooting an absurd 84 percent from the field, although most of his shots are right at the basket.
For the Pacers, David West scored a team high 21 points and had 10 rebounds. Roy Hibbert added 20 points with a game high 17 rebounds and George Hill had 19 points. The two players that came up short for the Pacers were Paul George and Lance Stephenson. George was unable to follow up his incredible game 2, shooting just 3/10 from the field for 13 points, and committing a game high 5 turnovers. Lance Stephenson shot 2-10 scoring 7 points. Stephenson is usually a big factor on the glass, but only had 1 rebound in game 3.
The Pacers need George and Stephenson to pick up the slack offensively if Indiana wants to stick around in this series.
Game 4 is for Tuesday night at 8:30pm from Indy. The Heat will have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead back to Miami for game 5.