Paul George and the Indiana Pacers kept their season alive with a three-point victory over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in Game 5. Miami’s leader LeBron James was in foul trouble through the whole game, which led to the Pacers taking advantage of that and just barely coming out with the win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Rashard Lewis came up big in LeBron’s absence by scoring 18 points off six shots from behind the three-point line. For the Pacers, Paul George had a hot second half scoring 31 of his 37 points in the final two quarters. He had a fantastic fourth quarter, which ultimately led them to the victory.
However, for Game 6 the Pacers will have to travel to hostile territory as they face another ‘win or go home’ game in Miami, where they lost by 12 points in both games there this series. Paul George stated that they will have to play like champions in order to force a winner-take-all Game 7 in Indiana.
Lance Stephenson has made a lot of commotion this series. He played very good basketball in the first two games of the series, but was highly inconsistent with his play for the last three games. His consistency has been shown with his mouth and ‘buffoonery,’ as Ray Allen explained it. First, he was trash-talking Dwyane Wade, then he trash-talked LeBron James. In Game 5, he decided to not only interrupt a Miami Heat team huddle, but also decided to blow in James’ ear in the fourth quarter. It has been described as ‘Lance being Lance’ by teammate Paul George, but even Larry Bird admitted he was bothered by his questionable antics.
The real question for Lance Stephenson and the Pacers is if his weird antics will prove a distraction. There’s no doubt that any team facing the Heat will need to be 100 percent focused on the task of winning. They can’t be ready to allow his absurdity to get in the way of that focus. The Heat have been unstoppable at home this postseason with an unbeaten record, so the Pacers will need to play with complete focus to even have a chance to win.
Heat are 9-0 at home in potential series-clinching games in the Big 3 era. LeBron averages 28.4 pts, 9.3 rebs & 6.1 asts in those games
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 30, 2014
Players like David West, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Luis Scola haven’t shown any indications of being distracted by Stephenson. With that being said, when Lance says he is getting into James’ head you have to wonder who’s in whose head.
The Pacers are going to need Stephenson to step up his gameplay in Game 6. In the last three games, he has only made 10-of-27 shots from the floor. He has been inconsistent and has definitely struggled.
When Chris Bosh is playing well and scoring, the Heat have a narrowed margin for error. That makes the Heat hard to beat. Bosh only tallied nine points in each of the first three games. He has come alive in Games 4 and 5, combining for 45 points. He has been highly reliable from behind the three-point line, making nearly 41 percent of his three-pointers during the playoffs. If the ‘good’ Bosh shows up in Game 6, the Pacers will find themselves in another corner.
For the Pacers, David West has been the man who has gotten them out of a lot of nasty situations so far this postseason. He is averaging 16.2 points per game this series, including 19 points in each of the team’s two wins. When the Pacers’ frontcourt is producing well and dominating down low, they are tough to beat. Miami lacks size down low, giving them an advantage. The Pacers just need to use that advantage.
The Miami Heat have proven to be the stronger team this series. They have shown more star power, in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James, and also a deeper rotation, thanks to Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Norris Cole.
If the Pacers want a chance, Paul George needs to do what he did in Game 5. However, that still won’t solidify a win against the Heat. As we saw in Game 5, when the Heat still had a chance to win.
I don’t see the Heat losing at home. They have too much motivation to get a third championship and to lose in front of their fans would be surprising. Look for a big game from James and Wade, ultimately leading them to a 103-95 victory over the Pacers to move on to their fourth straight NBA Finals.
Editor’s Note: This is a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can him on twitter @NBAandNFLInfo or on theFantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page, and for moreNBA basketball news visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues – afantasy basketball blog.