The Miami Heat entered Game 3 of their 2013 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals series with the Indiana Pacers feeling a bit hot under the collar. They nearly dropped Game 1 at home, then did drop Game 2 and simultaneously lost home court advantage. In Game 3, LeBron James took over, and the same will be expected of the Heat star in tonight’s pivotal Game 4 match on TNT.
It wasn’t necessary LeBron’s scoring that helped propel the Heat to a 2-1 series advantage after winning Game 3; in fact, he scored 14 fewer points in the Game victory. James shifted to the post in Game 3 and helped facilitate the offense from there, finding his teammates for clean looks as the basket and helping unclog the paint. Whereas the Pacers dominated inside in the first two games, the Heat outscored them in the paint by 52-36 in Game 3.
No one player benefited more than another with the James move. Dwayne Wade scored 18 points, Mario Chalmers had 14 points, Chris Bosh netted 15 points, and Udonis Haslem chipped in 17 points. Add in at least 5 points a piece from four different bench players and the Heat epitomized a balance attack that the Pacers were never able to completely cover.
Now that the Pacers have seen James go to work in the post they know what to expect and you can bet they will make adjustments tonight. Expect Paul George to get help on James sooner rather than later to at least get the ball out of his hands quickly. Frustrating James early rather than let him facilitate a big early lead will go a long way toward the Pacers having a shot at winning.
Indiana realizes they must stay focused and play near perfect ball to beat the Heat. Another 2 for 10 shooting performance from Lance Stephenson and 4 for 12 from Roy Hibbert has to improve, even if Hibbert made 12 of 15 free throws. Paul George is also a better scorer than the 3 for 10 he put up in Game 3.
Tonight’s Game 4 match of the NBA 2013 Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals between the leading Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers tips off at 8:30/7:30c in high definition (HD) exclusively on TNT. Viewers who have a cable or satellite subscription including TNT in their package have the option of watching a free online live streaming version of Game 4 in Indiana here at TNT Overtime via a mobile phone, iPad, laptop or other Internet connected device. This game feels like it can go either way as every previous one in the series has. I’ll flip a coin and predict the Heat get more competition from the Pacers tonight but ultimately leave Indiana with a 3-1 series lead.