The Miami Heat lost to the Indiana Pacers 78-75 on Tuesday night. Of course, no one wants to hear about the first 43 minutes of the game, people only want to hear about the last 5. That’s unfortunate because, believe it or not, things do actually happen before the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, and those things weigh heavily on the outcome of the game. This whole notion that LeBron is a “choker” is largely a product of this age’s media environment, but that’s an entirely different issue. LeBron James actually had quite the masterful game, tallying 28 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals, and 5 assists, but his two missed free throws in the final minute that would have given Miami a one point lead bogged down his effort, at least from the perspective of the “twitosphere.” The Heat had plenty of chances to win/tie the game down the stretch, but couldn’t capitalize on any of them: James missed his free throws, Wade missed a gimmee layup, and Chalmers missed a three to tie it in the closing seconds.
Of course Skip Bayless and the likes will go on ESPN tomorrow and rip LeBron for his missed free throws, but as always, logic will be cast aside. James played the entire second half, the only player to do so twice in the playoffs this year (for the second game in a row, too), and he was visibly fatigued by the closing minutes. His bounce was minimized and his knees weren’t all the way into his free throws. The real issue is obviously that he doesn’t have the heart of a champion, though! Right?!
Anyway, there are no excuses when you’re the best player on the planet. He has to make those free throws and he didn’t. A failure to execute will result in a loss, and the Heat failed to execute several times, LeBron contributing to that significantly.
The most important issue the Heat need to address moving forward isn’t the late game mumbo-jumbo that the media feeds off of. It’s how to manage LeBron’s minutes and how to spark a fire under this uninspired second unit. Aside from James and Wade, the rest of the entire Miami Heat roster only produced 23 points. If Miami wants to win this series, that has to change.
Series tied at 1-1
There’s less to say about the Clippers-Spurs game, at least at the moment. The Spurs led by 8 at halftime, 57-49, but have since pulled away. The game is in the middle of third quarter and San Antonio has upped their lead to 17. It’s not entirely shocking seeing as how the Spurs have had ample time to rest and the Clippers barely survived a ferocious seven game series with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers were able to fight their way back into last night’s game for a little bit, but the Spurs reasserted their dominance rather quickly. A lone bright spot for Clippers fans (based off last night, anyway) might be the surprise play of Eric Bledsoe who played stout defense and scored 23 points. If he turns into a reliable back up point guard, it would be huge for LA.
Tim Duncan had a vintage night, going for 26 and 10. The Spurs, who won 108-92, have now won 15 games in a row, and pretty much look unstoppable. Good luck, Clippers. You’ll need it.
Spurs lead series 1-0.