The Miami Heat will play the Indiana Pacers tonight in game five of this best of seven Eastern Conference Finals series. Tip off is scheduled for 8:30 (EST) and the game will be televised on TNT.
It is no surprise that the formula for Indiana to winning their games against Miami has a lot to do with the successful play of their big men. The Pacers were able to tie up this series at 2 a piece after huge nights from Center Roy Hibbert and forward David West in game 4. Hibbert finished game 4 with 23 points on 10 of 16 shooting and 12 rebounds, while West finished the game with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Fans across the country seem surprised of how this series has turned out thus far. My question to you fans is, why?
Why does it surprise you that Indiana has this series all knotted up with three games remaining? As far as I can remember, Indiana was the second best team in the east (New York may have had the 2nd best record, but they were not proven in the playoffs, and the head to head matchup against Indiana in the semifinals proved it). I don’t think it’s possible for any team to take down the Heat this year, but if there was a team that was built to do so, it would be Indiana because of their size and strength advantage. They gave Miami all they can handle last year in the semifinals, so they are only a year wiser and more prepared. Indiana is the only team in the East that can honestly say they are not afraid of the heat, and actually prove it on the court. They have been the more physical team in this series, out-rebounding Miami 176 to 136 through the first four games. And if it wasn’t for a last second blown play by the Pacer’s defense in game one, they’ll actually be the team who’s up in this series 3 games to 1.
With all that said, I still believe Miami has the Pacers right where they want them. They have 3 games to go, and two of those three games are at home. Other than the blowout in game 3, Miami has underperformed in each of the other three games, especially from all-stars like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, who both combined for 23 points on 6 for 21 shooting in game 4. So for all you Indiana fans who think they got the series locked up, think again. Because while you’re thinking that, Miami players and fans are laughing to themselves because they know your team hasn’t seen the best of them yet.
History has shown that the game 5 winner has the upper hand in taking this series, even though the Heat disproved that fact last season when losing to Boston in game 5, then later winning the next two games to take the series and advancing to the finals. But I think Miami will prove that fact right this time around, as I expect them to take game 5 from Indiana in a close one with a final score of 91 to 87. Expect the Heat to turn it around and play with the chemistry they have built together in these past three years.