Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers
The Pacers aren’t messing around. Indiana dominated the final three quarters in dismissing Miami in Game 3 by a final score of 94-75.
Indiana was led by Roy Hibbert’s monster effort of 19 points and 18 rebounds, along with 20 points from George Hill, and 17 points from their leading scorer, Danny Granger. With all of that said, the story here will be on Miami’s end because of how this one went down.
Before we get to the negative, let me highlight that Lebron James and Mario Chalmers showed up on this night for Miami. Lebron had a customary 22 points (on 10 of 22 shooting) and 7 rebounds in 40 minutes, and while it wasn’t his “best” game, he clearly showed up and played hard throughout. Mario Chalmers was the lone bright spot for the Heat as he proved me wrong (I’m a big detractor of Mr. Chalmers) in posting 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 10-15 from the field. That’s where the positives end for Miami.
Dwyane Wade flat-out didn’t show up on Thursday night. It’s not popular to beat up on Wade, because of the fact that Lebron is the guy who catches nearly every ounce of flack when Miami sputters, but there’s no excuse for his performance in Game 3. 2 for 13 shooting (including 0-5 in the first half), 5 points, 1 assist, 5 turnovers, and a game-worst -25 rating is inexplicable for a player of Wade’s stature. I’ll qualify my statements by saying that I’m assuming he isn’t injured, because if he is injured, it’s slightly more excusable to display the perceived lack of effort and will that I saw out of Wade on this night, but if the entire planet is going to put Lebron on the pressure-cooker every time he fails, we have to take Wade to task here.
Now that we’ve addressed that, Dwyane Wade wasn’t the only no-show for Miami. Shane Battier (my boy, for the record) shot 0-7 including 0-6 on threes in continuing his struggles on the offensive end. Also, the Pacers absolutely obliterated Miami on the boards by a 52-36 margin, and Miami only notched 9 total assists as a team.
With all the negativity surrounding Miami (and you’ll see/hear that everywhere on Friday), let’s give some credit to the Pacers for a dominant performance. Roy Hibbert was the best player on the floor at times in this one on a night where he nearly went 20-20, Indiana made 8 of 14 threes on the night, and played visibly harder and with more passion in front of a raucous crowd in Indy.
What does this mean going forward? After game 2, I spoke with a friend and shared my sudden wavering on a “sure-thing” Miami win in this series, and Game 3 certainly didn’t do anything to change my mind back. Indiana now controls the series, and if they can hold serve in Game 3 at home, they’d have a commanding lead against a team without Chris Bosh that isn’t exactly intimidating. It’s worth noting that if you ranked the top 10 players in this series, Indiana has 8 of them (with Bosh injured), and just because Miami has the best two players doesn’t mean they are the better team at this moment. Stay tuned.
Indiana leads the series 2-1.
San Antonio Spurs vs Los Angeles Clippers
Happy 30th birthday, Tony Parker. Parker and the Spurs dominated the banged-up Clippers by a final tally of 105-88, after taking firm control of this game with a ferocious 2nd half effort.
Tim Duncan paced the Spurs play with 18 points and 5 rebounds in 33 minutes, continuing his trip in the time machine by showing explosiveness we haven’t seen out of him in 3-4 years, and completely dominating the game when he wants to. Parker shot just 8-for-19 but finished with a game-high 22 points to go along with 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals.
On the Clippers end, they managed to shoot a very solid 49% from the field as a team, but finished with 18 turnovers to just 13 assists, and suffered through another subpar effort from Chris Paul. The team’s best player (and the best point guard on Earth) in Paul committed 8 turnovers, and scored just 10 points as San Antonio’s defensive strategy to make the rest of the Clippers team beat them was successful for a second consecutive night.
Blake Griffin did show up a bit in this one as he finished with 20 points, but he managed to grab only one rebound (one!!) in 37 minutes, and really has no chance to contain Tim Duncan when San Antonio runs sets through him.
What do you do if you’re the Clippers here? I’ve been an unabashed Chris Paul supporter, but Greg Popovich seems to have dialed up the perfect defensive strategy to bottle him up, and he’s played poorly in both games on the road. LA simply can’t compete in this series with a super-human effort from Paul, and when he’s ordinary, they have no chance, especially when considering the lack of offensive explosiveness from the rest of the roster sans Griffin. Can the Clippers steal a game at home? Maybe, simply because I don’t think Paul will play 4 poor games in a row, but this series is on series life-support. San Antonio has it all going, and when the best power forward to ever play the game is healthy and playing at this level, no one will beat the Spurs.
San Antonio leads the series 2-0.