LeBron James and the Miami Heat knew it was a must win game going in. Only 8 teams in NBA history have rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit, and James was out to make sure the Heat didn’t have to, leading them to a 101-93 victory.
Miami stumbled out of the gates, falling behind 9-0 to a feisty Pacers team looking to put the nail in the coffin. Dwyane Wade was struggling, everything Mario Chalmers did was terrible, and the Heat were headed towards another destructive loss. Except James had other plans. He kept the Heat alive throughout the first half, notching a gaudy stat line of 19, 5, and 5 after the first 24 minutes, which would have been impressive for most anyone else after a full 48. The Heat trailed by 8 at the break, and there was a sliver of hope. That was all they needed.
Wade came alive in the second half, attacking as if he was an untamed beast who was just released from years of scourge and bondage. He scored 22 in the half, 30 in the game, and finally lent a helping hand to James who completed one of the most spectacular games in NBA playoff history. Only one other time has a player posted a stat line equal to his remarkable 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists, and that was Elgin Baylor in 1961 who hit the exact same numbers.
Udonis Haslem also provided a much needed boost down the stretch, hitting jumper after jumper to burry the Pacers. He finished with 14 points on 5-6 shooting after not playing the entire second half on Thursday’s loss.
The Heat were able to breathe a sigh of relief after their two stars carried them through the squalor and on to victory. It’s nearly impossible to duplicate, but yet this was the bar we set. It was an unrealistic expectation, but James and Wade still surpassed it as they played off each other, ditching the “your-turn-my-turn” game. It was an inspiring game of basketball from a duo that’s looking to become much more than a pair of super stars. If they play together like this, and if LeBron continues to make plays like he made, the Heat can survive this death match with the Pacers without Chris Bosh. Even then, it might not be enough.
Series Tied 2-2
There is simply no stopping the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve won 18 straight games and are getting vintage Duncan performances time and time again. This is the scariest team in the league. A team that has crushed and quelled every preconceived notion of their withering bones. They are out to win a championship and they’ve made that perfectly clear from the start.
No one sweeps Chris Paul in the playoffs. No one. That’s what I thought, at least, but these Spurs are good enough to do it. They actually did it. That’s scary. Duncan punched in 21 and 9 and Parker notched 17 as they weathered a final storm by the Clippers to hang on for a 102-99 victory, sending San Antonio to the Western Conference Finals.
For all the talk of this being an “asterisk” title, especially if the Heat win, it’s turning out to be a rather petulant view point. The injuries have been terrible and have turned basketball into a gruesome defensive struggle (no Rose, Howard, Bosh, etc.) that can be difficult to watch, but there will be no asterisk, especially if the Heat beat the Spurs in the finals. There’s no asterisk because the Spurs are the best team we’ve seen since the 08′ Celtics. If Miami wins, it will be an upset. San Antonio is that good.
Anyway, the Thunder-Spurs series should be one for the ages. As I’ve learned: never, ever bet against Poppovich. He is a basketball wizard.
Spurs win series 4-0
Tags: Boston Celtics Chris Bosh Chris Paul Danny Granger Derrick Rose Dwight Howard Indiana Pacers LeBron James Los Angeles Clippers Mario Chalmers Miami Heat San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan Tony Parker Udonis Haslem