Heat/Pacers preview: Will the real Dwyane Wade please stand up?
Frank Vogel said in his press conference after Game 2 that LeBron James played about as good a game has he had ever seen a player have.
But it wasn’t enough. Paul George didn’t outplay him but held his own, and he got help from a bunch of other Pacers — Roy Hibbert, David West and George Hill all had good games.
Behind LeBron, Dwyane Wade had 14 points on 14 shots. He looks old and slow, and while he says not to write him off he isn’t playing like it. Bosh had 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Nobody else on Miami scored in double digits. During the season teams paid a price for the Heat’s ball movement and having Ray Allen and Shane Battier in the corner, the Pacers have contested and not paid any price.
And that becomes one of the big keys to Game 3 Sunday night and beyond — can Wade get past his sore knee and step up with a bigger game? Can Bosh provide more? Will the ball movement and three point shooting return for the Heat?
Because as great as LeBron is playing, he alone is not enough against a very good Pacers’ team.
Indiana has punctured Miami’s air of inevitability, that they were the best team and would roll to the finals. Indiana genuinely believes they can win, and that is step one to beating the Heat.
The other thing that should be worrying Miami faithful — the Pacers are scoring plenty.
During the regular season, Miami allowed 100.5 points per 100 possessions (7th best in the league) and Indiana scored just 101.6 (19th in the NBA). The issue for the Pacers coming into the series is how would they score enough?
But in Game 2 the Pacers scored 112.7 points per 100 possessions, after a respectable 101.9 in Game 1. Now the Pacers head home where you can expect role players like Lance Stephenson to play better… actually, in Stephenson’s case expect more up and down because that’s who he is. But you get the idea.
In Game 2 the Pacers guards did a better job against the perimeter pressure the Heat bring, and that allowed them to get the ball inside to West and Hibbert where their advantage is. (The Pacers also adjusted to the wing/wing pick-and-rolls the Heat ran on the other side that kept Hibbert well out of the play defensively.)
Miami needs to get back to won it 66 games in the regular season — LeBron is great but he got enough help from Wade and Bosh and the Heat’s depth that they overwhelmed teams. Indiana has a guy that can match up with LeBron in Paul George who is not going to be overwhelmed, which means now it comes to the supporting cast.
So far Indiana has won that battle, and if they continue to Miami is in real trouble.