The first half was an extension of game 3. The Pacers were the aggressors, getting their shots within the offense and generally looking like a team prepared to knock off the much-hated Heat. Heading into the locker room at halftime, the Pacers held an 8 point lead, had the crowd fully behind them, and looked kind of unstoppable.
But right before the first half ended, two things happened that set up the Heat for their comeback.
First, the Pacers stopped attacking the basket. They started settling for jumpers. Most of them were going in, which bailed them out. Rather than realizing that they needed to become more aggressive, the made jump shots encouraged them to continue shooting from distance in the second half. Big mistake.
The second was the awakening of Dwyane Wade. With two minutes remaining, Wade hit a three over Paul George. That sounds simple, so let me explain. Paul George was all over Wade. George wasn't letting Wade breathe. And Wade just rose up and stroked the triple. Confidence restored.
Then Danny Granger lost his mind. I see what Granger is doing, acting like a tough guy and trying to intimidate the Heat and encourage his team by showing that he won't back down from the Heat. Okay, that's fine. But after Wade was fouled by Roy Hibbert on a drive, Granger felt the need to go trash talk Wade.
The third quarter was all LeBron and Wade. It was an absolute exhibition. From the 2:50 mark in the second quarter until the 1:30 mark in the third, no other Heat player scored. During that 13 minute period, the Heat scored 38 points. During that same stretch, they allowed 16 points.
LeBron finished with a measly 40-18-9. Wade went 30-9-6 with no turnovers.
I've already said that the loss of Bosh is devastating, but if the Heat play like they did in the third quarter (and get Udonis Haslem from 2006 to keep showing up), they're going to be tough to beat on their way to the Finals. Thoughts?