The Miami Heat entered game four of the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference Final looking to take a commanding 3-1 lead. Instead the Indiana Pacers evened the series at 2-2.
The Heat was notorious during the regular season for slow starts. That was the very story at the beginning of game four as the Pacers vaulted out to 11-0 lead and even found themselves down in the fourth quarter by a score of 81-72.
Just like in those games the Heat came roaring back and took the lead 86-83. However, something happened unlike in those games.
During the regular season when the Heat came back teams would wilt away. You can sense mentally they were frustrated and eventually gave up. On Tuesday night that wasn’t the case at all.
According to ESPN, the Pacers didn’t give up and evened the score on a three-point play by small forward Paul George. That evened the score up at 86-86. That was the start of a 16-6 run that closed out the game, thus allowing the Pacers to even the series.
So, what does this mean?
It means that if the Heat are going to win this series they need to come out firing on all cylinders right away. Last year in the Eastern Conference Finals the Heat were down 3-2 to the Boston Celtics, but came back and won the series in seven. If the Heat think they can do that again they are surely mistaken.
The Celtics were an aging team with three superstars in the mid 30s. Both forward/center Kevin Garnett and shooting guard Ray Allen were about 36-years-old with small forward Paul Pierce being 34 years old.
What that means is first that the wear and tear of a long series is going to affect the Celtics more than the Heat, which it did.
As for the Pacers, outside of forwards David West and Danny Granger, the team is in their early to mid 20s. The Heat this year contains 10 of 15 players that are over 30-years-old. So, that means the Pacers have a clear advantage if it goes to a seven game series. Also, the Pacers are looking for revenge as the Heat knocked them out of the NBA Playoffs last year.
A good example is Heat guard Dwayne Wade who has been battling a knee injury in the playoffs. According to reports, Wade reinjured the knee in game four against the Chicago Bulls, and clearly hasn’t been the same.
Wade Tuesday night scored 16 points 6 assists 3 rebounds and was 5 of 15 from the floor for a mere 33 percent. Outside of assists all of those numbers are down. During the regular season, Wade averaged 21.2 points per a game 5 assists 5 rebounds per a game and made over 50 of his shots from the floor.
With the Pacers evening the series at two games apiece, it’s clear that the Heat have their hands full.