By John Schmeelk
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The Miami Heat have saved their season, at least for now. The problem is that it took an all-time performance from LeBron James, a great one for Dwyane Wade and a big fourth quarter from Udonis Haslem to win by eight points. The Heat also won the rebounding battle by nine and held David West and Roy Hibbert to only 18 combined points and 15 combined rebounds. I don’t think any of those things will happen again in the same game the rest of the series.
As maligned as Chris Bosh can be, he is still a legitimate secondary scoring option and can not only hit an open jump shot, but also finish around the basket. He isn’t a MVP caliber player, but his replacements are so bad it makes him seem irreplaceable. With Bosh out for the remainder of the series, the pressure on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade isn’t going anywhere. Both will need to be absolute beasts for the Heat to finish off the Pacers.
Frank Vogel has proven himself to be a very good coach this season, but now the onus is on him to decide how he wants to defend the Heat. Does he try to stop LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with only defender and prevent the Heat roleplayers from getting going, or does he start to double and hope the poor shooting of Miami’s roleplayers continues?
In these situations, I’ve always been an advocate of not double teaming until a player gets hot and proves you can’t make him an inefficient scorer when going one on one. If the second half rolls around and LeBron or Wade get hot, double teams have to come. By then, you hope that their teammates haven’t seen the ball enough to be in rhythm themselves, and won’t be able to hit their open shots.
Game Five isn’t a must win for the Pacers, but it is darn close to one. Winning two straight against the Heat, with the second being a Game Seven in Miami would be extremely difficult. Of course, if Wade and LeBron play like they did on Sunday, it won’t matter much what the Pacers do. But there’s no way those two players can sustain that over the course of Eastern Conference and NBA Finals. If the Heat get past the Pacers, they’ll need some help. If Chris Bosh doesn’t return, there won’t be enough and the Heat will once again fall short of their goal: A championship.
– Can anyone argue the Spurs are the best team in the NBA right now? They haven’t only been beating teams consistently going back to March, but they have been doing so rather easily. They remind me of the Pistons team back in 2004 that beat the Lakers by playing great defense and team basketball on offense. With Tim Duncan on the older side, the Spurs no longer have that superstar to carry them. Everyone works together and knows their role. If there was any questions Gregg Popovich was a great head coach (and anyone with half a clue already knew it), they should be answered this year.
– The Lakers-Thunder series should provide even more evidence that one player can’t do it themselves. Kobe Bryant needs more help from Pau Gasol if the Lakers want to make any sort of run at the Thunder. He just gets too passive sometimes and needs to look for his shot more often.
– Despite the series being tied at 2-2, I just don’t see the Sixers pushing the series to seven games, let alone winning it. I think the Celtics win by double digits tonight and then win a close one in Philly to close it out in Game Six.