The words that are spoken following an intense playoff game can either be viewed in one of two ways. Humbling moments in front of the podium stating with urgency a need to get better should be considered a positive response. What Paul George did following the Indiana Pacers‘ humbling 102-90 loss to the Miami Heat is on the complete opposite end of this spectrum.
Shortly after throwing Lance Stephenson under the proverbial bus (in light of his non-stop comment reel aimed at throwing off the Heat mentally), George went on to discuss with the media how the free throw discrepancy was the sole reason for the Pacers’ blowout loss and that his team had this game stolen from them by the referees. George said:
“It’s just demoralizing when [the free throws are] lopsided. I mean, I’m sorry to say, but that was the case. How rare is it we shoot 50 percent, turn the ball over around 13 or so times, outrebound a team and lose a ballgame? I thought we did a great job. I just thought we did a great job. But, again, they made 30 free throws, and that put them over the edge.”
What determined this game’s outcome had nothing to do with the free throw margin solely. Yes, the Heat did have nearly twice as many free throw attempts (30-for-34 compared to the Pacers’ 10-for-17), but this was due to the sheer ferocity with which they started and ultimately ended the game. The player who sparked this dominance from the onset was Chris Bosh, the one player of the Big Three who has yet to have a breakout game in this series.
Bosh ended the night with 25 points, six rebounds and one block. More importantly, he played exquisite defense and stretched out the offense by making the Pacers’ defense pay from beyond the arc. Bosh shot 3-for-5 from the three-point line and 8-for-10 from the field. Bosh also led the team in scoring at halftime, racking up 17 points. Bosh’s aggression was key from the beginning because it got the rest of the starters fired up and the Heat never looked back. The defending champs never trailed in this game, and the score was never close enough for the Pacers to even have a fighting chance.
The energy level and aggression from Bosh, LeBron James and the rest of the Heat was the reason the Pacers lost Game 4, not the free throw discrepancy. If the defending champs can manage this type of tenacity on the road for Game 5, the Pacers will face another embarrassing loss, abruptly ending a series many thought would go seven games. Because of Bosh, this series may be over already.