The air at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis was thick with tension and trepidation, prior to game four of the Eastern Conference Semi-Final series between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. Rather than the vibe of aggression and anticipation that permeated the air at the Fieldhouse in game three, it seemed that many in the arena for game four felt more anxious about what may happen, regardless of who won or lost. If the Pacers took game four, winning a third straight game against the Heat, Miami would be on the ropes in a desperate elimination situation. If the Heat beat the Pacers, the tide of this series would turn once again, and Indiana would lose home court advantage.
The Miami Heat had not scored over 75 points against the Pacers since game one of the series. Indiana had fought and clawed with Miami night in and night out, and were coming off of a 21-point beat-down of the Heat in game three. If the Heat were going to carry on much further in the series, the remaining two of Miami’s Big Three would have to pick up the slack and take over the game.
When the chips are down, superstars are expected to step up. When Miami’s back was against the wall in game four, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade ran wild over Indiana. James and Wade alone combined for 70 points, and Miami evened the series with a 101-93 victory. Indiana led by ten points early in the third quarter, before Wade and James led Miami on a 25-5 run, taking a lead that they would never relinquish. Their performances were awesome and borderline legendary, but were also almost to be expected from a team with two superstars who were standing at the edge of oblivion.
The wins in this series seem to stem primarily from the differential in rebounds and fouls. The team who has led in rebounding has won each game of the series so far. In game four, the Heat out-rebounded the Pacers 47-38. Indiana’s foul issues have led to losses for them in game one and game four. Indiana had nine more fouls than Miami in game one. In game four, Indiana was hit with 28 fouls, as opposed to Miami’s 24.
Momentum in this series is now undoubtedly back in Miami’s favor, with two of the last three games in South Beach. With the series (and their legacy) on the line, Wade and James came out swinging in fantastic fashion. But, if it takes 70 points between two players to defeat this Indiana team, can and will the Heat be able to do the same thing two more times?