Every team is entitled to a hiccup or two, but they usually do not let it happen four wins away from the NBA Finals against a budding rival.
Forget about all the talk of Dwyane Wade having to outplay Lance Stephenson, because they both had a good game — 24 points, four assists and 17 points, eight assists respectively. The Miami Heat have to worry about finding a way to get everybody on their payroll to show up. And yes, that includes the coach.
Sunday afternoon featured one of those classic moments where Erik Spoelstra slips into genius mode and out-thinks himself instead of clenching onto the obvious.
Everyone from the reporters to the commentators expected Udonis Haslem to be back in the starting lineup after barely breaking a sweat in one game against the Brooklyn Nets. Even LeBron James assumed that it was a given when he answered the will U.D. start question with a simple “Yep.”
It seemed to only make sense since he was the only player to give the Indiana Pacers’ offense fits with his ability to wedge himself under Roy Hibbert for leverage. This dates back to last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. But according to ESPN’s Michael Wallace, Spoelstra stuck with Shane Battier to prioritize three-point spacing over rebounds. And he’s still leaving Tuesday’s top five up in the air by expressing that “it’s too early to say” who his fifth man will be.
However, if that was the only problem, the Heat might have been good. Instead they have to worry about sloppy offense, the bad Chris Bosh (relying only on threes), over exaggerated flops and lazy, foul-happy defense. What they have to realize is that the Pacers talked trash, stared them in the eyes, smacked their face and refused to run. Now let’s see if they have the heart to fight back.