Heat vs Pacers Game 7 Preview: It's now or never for Big 3 in quest to repeat as champs

USA TODAY Sports

All three members of the Miami Heat's Big 3 must step up big time tonight in their second and final chance to close out the Indiana Pacers and make it to the NBA Finals.

While the San Antonio Spurs patiently await, the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers have gone the distance and meet tonight at the AmericanAirlines Arena for one final game to determine who represents the East in the 2013 NBA Finals.

While many experts, pundits, bloggers and fans predicted this series could go 6 or 7 games, the foregone conclusion was that the Heat would assuredly reach their third Finals appearance in as many years as the Big 3 star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been together.

What no one could ever predict was the extremely poor showing of Wade and Bosh in this entire series and the Heat have not won three games in this series because of the duo's production but more often than not, despite the two All-Stars which is something unheard of for this team. Because of this, LeBron has been forced to shoulder the load which is not unheard of for an MVP to have to do for his team on the brink of winning a title, but an increased offensive workload for the King is not the strength of a dominant Heat team that was literally unstoppable in the second half of the season.

A dominant LeBron with next to little production from his teammates can certainly recall his Cleveland Cavs days, good enough to go deep in the playoffs but not enough to be the best team in the NBA. Playing in the shadow of a monstrous winning streak that featured plenty of victories against solid teams but also plenty of games against lottery teams, the Heat's depth has betrayed them at the worst possible time with players in extended shooting slumps such as Ray Allen, who isn't even a sure thing at the free throw line these days let alone beyond the arc, and Shane Battier, who can only do so much battling the likes of the much larger David West on the other end. Crisp ball movement to find the teammate with the best shot has been replaced with ill-advised long range shots, the ball sticking for too long with one player and not enough penetration against the imposing Pacers frontline.

The few bright spots on the team this series like Udonis Haslem have not been nearly as consistent as the Heat desperately needs with Wade and Bosh struggling so much but for one night, at the very minimum two or three other players must give the MVP adequate support to carry this team to the Finals. It could be the Birdman, who returns from his one game suspension, and a combination of bench players or the Big 3 can finally come together as they've done in so many other important games in their three years together to close out the rival Pacers and defend their home court.

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