The Miami Heat dominated all 48 minutes of Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers and are now just one win away from making their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance, which would make them the first team to do so since the Boston Celtics of the 1980s.
They beat the Pacers comprehensively as the 2-time defending champions extended their unbeaten run on their home floor to an impressive 7 wins in these Playoffs. There were a lot of positive changes for the Heat and a lot of not so positive ones for the Pacers. Here’s a recap of Game 4 of the Conference Finals between these two giants of the East:
(1) Indiana Pacers vs (2) Miami Heat (Miami won 102-90, lead series 3-1)
Despite two consecutive wins after the Game 1 loss, the Heat still had certain areas of concern to work on. Each of the three games prior to the fourth had only two things in common for the Heat -
1) The team’s slow start at the beginning of the game and
2) Member of the Big 3, Chris Bosh’s, struggles on both ends of the floor.
In what could be called as a breakout game, Bosh exploded for 25 points (17 in the first quarter) on 3 of 5 shooting from 3-point range and 7 of 12 in total from the field while also grabbing 6 rebounds, helping the Heat to solve both problems at once putting them up by 8 after the first quarter. He had a game high +17 in the +/- category.
Turns out Lance Stephenson’s comments prior to the game about LeBron James’ trash talking being a sign of weakness didn’t help the Pacers much as keying up LeBron even more. James led the Heat to victory, taking over the game in the second and third quarters after Bosh’s first quarter shooting burst, with a double-double of 32 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Highlights of Bosh’s first quarter offense:
But not for the first time in this series, as much as it was the Heat’s excellent play it was the sloppiness of the Pacers that gave the South Beach franchise the win and with it a commanding series lead after four games.
Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel has often mentioned that the Pacers excel on the offensive end when all five of their starters share the ball and have a balanced night of scoring. Alas, Indiana have failed to so in the last three games, with one of their starters always being in early foul trouble and struggling to get into an offensive rhythm. David West warmed the benches in Game 2, Paul George did it in Game 3 and in Game 4 it was the turn of the Pacers’ best all-round player in this series, Stephenson.
Indiana’s big players, George (23 points and 7 rebounds) and West (20 points and 12 rebounds), did their best, but the chances of the Pacers winning the game were slim with Roy Hibbert scoring no points, his fourth scoreless game of the post-season and Lance Stephenson (9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists) battling foul trouble and dropping his first field goal not until mid-way through the final quarter.
The Pacers are not going to win this series just with their defense which by the way they aren’t playing too well either. Indiana need to dial up their intensity on both ends of the floor and be more efficient on the offensive end and the way to do that is not committing turnovers. Turnovers feed the Heat’s transition offense and the Pacers have been doing nothing but feeding them in that area. They had 14 turnovers in Game 4, almost double of what the Heat committed.
Heading back home for Game 5 the Pacers, facing elimination, would be looking to put their home court advantage to good use and extend the series while the Heat would be looking to wrap it up.
Game 5 will be played on Wednesday night on Indiana’s home court, the Bankers Life Field House.
Meanwhile King James leads the Top 5 plays for the Game: