Instead of heading back home to Miami one step closer to the NBA Finals, the Heat were not able to close out Game 4 and missed out on the chance to defeat the Pacers on the road a second consecutive time and take the commanding 3-1 series lead.
Unfortunately, late miscues cost the Heat a golden opportunity to snatch the victory, as it did in Game 2 at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Of course, the Pacers also deserve more than a fair share of credit for bouncing back from their deflating blowout loss in Game 3, their first home postseason loss in Indiana. The referees, especially the megalomaniac Joey Crawford, also had a hand in the outcome - a regrettable factor of course but hopefully an occurrence that won't happen again in this series or beyond.
For the Heat, it's absolutely imperative that ball handlers Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade continue to stay aggressive and attack the rim whenever possible. Swinging the ball around the perimeter won't be breaking down any defense, especially the Pacers', so the Heat must do what it can from a team-standpoint to try to get easier, higher efficiency shots and attempt to get the visiting team in foul trouble. The Pacers have been fortunate to have not dealt with foul trouble with their starters since Game 1, when all of them had at least 4 fouls. Roy Hibbert somehow played 40 minutes in Game 4 with just one foul to him, while LeBron James fouled out for just the second time in a playoff game in his career. Playing with 4 or 5 fouls would make Hibbert or David West think twice about how tight they would want to play defense too.
Another huge factor tonight will be Dwyane Wade, and more specifically his health. For more, HHH writer Matt Pineda breaks down what Wade needs to do to get back on track in this series (and hopefully beyond) in a companion piece this morning. Furthermore, Chris Bosh needs to provide not just points but bring a much more aggressive mentality and crash the boards to help cancel out the Pacer's height advantage, bad ankle or not. Some timely outside shooting from Shane Battier, Ray Allen (Game 4's leading rebounder for the Heat, not a good stat for the team) and others would certainly help the cause too. If Allen or Battier can't knock it down consistently, coach Erik Spoelstra would be wise to give Mike Miller a chance to provide some much needed energy and hustle.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT