Two uncharacteristically sloppy plays from the MVP resulted in turnovers that sealed the Heat's fate and a 1-1 series tie in the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers were the better team tonight, with Roy Hibbert leading the way with a playoff career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds, 6 of which were on the offensive glass, along with Paul George who had a superb all-around game with 22 points, 6 assists and solid play on both ends of the floor. The Pacers did most of their damage with their starters and only needed 5 points from their bench in their victory over the defending champs.
LeBron poured in 36 points on an efficient 14-20 from the field but also had a game-high 5 turnovers and he had very little consistent support from his teammates. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole continue to struggle mightily in this series, as well as Shane Battier and Ray Allen not being able to knock down the long range jumpers that they've been able to do so much during the Heat's historic second part of the season. Besides the Birdman's usual stellar contributions off the bench, the Heat really hasn't had much meaningful production from the reserves in either game so far. Yes, the Pacers didn't need their bench in this game to win but the Heat also suffered from a clearly struggling Dwyane Wade who practically lost the game in crunch time with an ill-advised play towards the rim. Both Wade and Chris Bosh finished with 6-14 shooting from the field each, and it just wasn't enough to overcome the taller and more physically imposing frontline of the Pacers. Bosh grabbing just 5 rebounds isn't going to be enough either but Wade in particular has looked shaky in his decision making and something is clearly affecting his game physically and mentally. Though he was able to knock down a few jumpers, he was not willing to attack the Pacers big men and was hesitant in the few fast break opportunities the Heat had.
The three-point shooting that helps makes the Heat team so unbeatable has also been taken away, with the team hitting just 7-of-22 for 31.8% of their long range shots. Even more frustrating, the Heat missed 8 of their 26 free throws attempts for less than 70% shooting. With games as close as these, those points represent the difference between a win and a loss.
Those isn't the first time the Heat have lost a playoff game with the Big 3 but there are plenty of signs of trouble if Wade continues to not be himself and the Heat's role players don't step up and give the Pacers defenders something to think about before packing the lane. Will coach Erik Spoelstra shake up his starting lineup or his rotation? The Heat wasn't expected to simply breeze through the Pacers like they ended up doing against the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls, but these first two games have not been pretty for the best team in the NBA.
Make no mistake, the Pacers have been playing their best ball and it remains to be seen if Hibbert, George, David West and George Hill can continue their solid play throughout the entire series. With the series shifting to Indiana and a pair of tough road games ahead, it's up to the MVP to put the team on his back and lead the way to the Finals.
Game 5 ticket info released
With a Game 5 assured, the The Miami HEAT announced today that individual game tickets for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals will go on sale to the general public tomorrow, May 25 at 2:00 p.m. Inventory is limited and tickets are expected to sell quickly. Fans can purchase tickets online at HEAT.com, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX. There will be an eight ticket purchase limit per household.
Tickets will NOT be available at the AmericanAirlines Arena Ticket Office for the initial on-sale date. Playoff tickets may be purchased at the AmericanAirlines Arena Ticket Office beginning Tuesday, May 28 at 10:00 a.m.
Game 5 will be played at AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday, May 30 at 8:30 p.m.