After one half, Game 5 felt like the inevitable end to the Indiana Pacers’ frustrating run in the playoffs. Despite a lackluster performance from LeBron (he played only 25 minutes due to foul trouble and finished with 7 points on 2-for-10 shooting) Indiana was down by 10 points at home and looked like they were finally out. The Miami Heat had won the last three games, were cruising to their fourth, and then the inevitable happened. Of course, when you start to assume the Pacers are going in one direction, they go the other way instead.
With James struggling to stay on the court and unusually ineffective of course he had to deal with Indiana’s Lance Stephenson doing stuff like this:
…and wandering into the Heat’s huddle, both of which had James emphasizing his team’s professionalism in the postgame press conference. Paul George exploded as part of the team’s 31-point third quarter that gave the Pacers the lead headed into the fourth. In the game’s final three minutes, the two teams exchanged three-pointers behind George and…wait…yep, Rashard Lewis. George finished with 37 points and attempted an astounding 14 three-pointers, hitting on five of them. Lewis, inserted into the starting lineup in the series, countered by hitting six three-pointers. The last time he hit even five three-pointers in a playoff game was in the 2009 Finals with the Orlando Magic.
Even with all this, the Heat trailed by just two in the closing seconds. LeBron drove to the rim, and as coach Erik Spolestra said after the game, “went for the kill”, finding Chris Bosh in the corner for a go-ahead three attempt, and a chance to close out the series on the road. The shot was no good, and that was essentially the game.
The Pacers are still alive, and continue to come up with ways to scratch out unexpected wins that still inspire no additional confidence about them, not good considering they’ll need to win a road game on Friday in Miami to stay alive. Put it this way: if this Pacers team manages to win three in a row to come back and beat Miami, it’d be one of the most stunning upsets I’ve ever seen. Be ready for anything with this Pacers team. Also, be ready for nothing.
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