For the casual fan and those with no real rooting interest for the Indiana Pacers vs. the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals match up, it can be summed up in this simple phrase: you can’t teach height. In Game 2, the Pacers bigs, power forward David West and center Roy Hibbert, owned the paint on both sides of the ball. With the series tied one all, the defending champions came into Bankers Life Field house looking to reestablish themselves as front runners for the NBA title.
And for league MVP, LeBron James, he decided to play a big man’s game tonight.
While in Games 1 and 2, the Pacers were able to dictate the flow of the game with their brand of bully ball. LeBron and the Heat decided not only to match the defensive intensity of their Eastern Conference counterparts, but they dominated the paint, which resulted in the Pacers being run off their home count. For the Pacers, that was their downfall in Game 3. They couldn’t control the paint as LeBron looked like a seasoned vet on the block against the smaller Paul George.
It’s apparent that the Pacers have no answer for LeBron on the block. Or the obvious answer is not one that they were willing to entertain. The problem for the Pacers in their 114-96 home loss to the Heat had more to do with X’s and O’s than any missed baskets or empty possessions. George looked like a grade school kid versus a grown man as he tried with all his might to go one-on-one with the LeBron on the block.
For Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, he should have been more like a concerned parent, meaning once the league MVP started to get going in the low post, Vogel should have called timeout and made the adjustment of bringing in the double team. For all intensive purposes, that lack of help helped the Heat take a 2-1 series lead.
Game 3 ends with the Pacers losing by 18 on their home court. The Heat looked like champions tonight. Some may even say that the shellacking the Pacers received was a bad lose. But it’s only one game. In order for the Heat to return to the Finals for a third straight year, they have to reclaim home court advantage. If the Pacers don’t want that to happen, they must defend their house. The stage is now set for Game 4 on Tuesday to be a slug fest.