The Miami Heat responded to their Game 2 loss with a dominating win over the Pacers in Game 3. LeBron James had 22 points and orchestrated a terrific team effort for the Heat to take a 2-1 series lead over the Pacers with 114-96.
The first half was pure offensive explosion from the Heat. LeBron needed help and he got it. The Heat scored 70 points, a playoff franchise record, with James getting 18. Bosh, Wade and Haslem all got into double figures in the first half and the Heat shot 62.8%. In the first quarter, Miami was hitting outside shots, but in the second they went to the post with LeBron and it was some very efficient basketball. Miami got a good look on nearly every possession and only had one turnover for the half. The Pacers meanwhile stuck around and scored 56 points.
The third quarter, although less productive, saw them increase their lead by one. Led by consistent play from UdonIs Haslem and his rediscovered jump-shot and Mario Chalmers, Miami withstood the Pacers push that cut the lead to 7 points. Haslem shot 8-9 and had 17 points. It was his best game we could remember in a while. Chalmers stepped up his game and contributed 14 points.
LeBron James played a magnificent game from the post. Numerous times, backing down Paul George and getting points in the paint. It was very encouraging to see him remove himself from controlling the ball to dominating the paint. Shane Battier hit his first three-pointer of the series in the fourth quarter and Ray Allen also found the range for the Heat.
Chris Bosh found foul trouble early in the second half, but was on his offensive game in this one, leading the Heat with 2 first-quarter three-pointers. David West, although dominate again early, found trouble scoring and staying away from fouls in the second half. The Heat led by as many as 20 in the fourth and was completely dominant throughout.
Dwyane Wade played an improved and effective game, scoring 18 points and dishing 8 assists. The Birdman, Chris Anderson, stayed perfect from the floor and poured in 9 points. And Chris Bosh gave 15 points in limited minutes. Starters were pulled for the final 3 minutes of the game as they Heat had already pulled away.
Turnovers were a key for the Heat as they only committed five for the entire game. Ball movement was improved throughout and is what kept the Pacers guessing and on their toes. Mostly, the role players stepped up and contributed much more than they did in Miami. It seems the Heat play their best with their backs against the wall. This was the first home loss for the Pacers this postseason (6-1), and the Heat stayed perfect on the road this postseason (5-0).
All in all, the Heat looked great tonight. They'll get a much better effort from the Pacers on Tuesday as they'll look to take a 3-1 series lead.
Game 4 is Tuesday in Indianapolis, 8:30pm on TNT.