The one statistic I want to focus on is simply this.
LeBron James shot 15 free throws, he hit 14 of them, we won by 1.
I only take great joy in this because had the referee’s not given LeBron 10 first half free throws we would have had a lead going into the half.
I will give the Pacers credit for this, even though the referee’s set the tone very early in the game on how they were going to allow us to guard LeBron we kept at him the entire game and every player on the floor made it so that he never had a free look or a free pass to the lane.
Thank God for the instant replay because prior to this I can assure you that both of our brutes (sarcasm) Mahinmi & Scola would have had flagrant fouls and Scola would possibly have been given a flagrant 2. But technology triumphed over anticipated whistles in this one.
The referee’s cleaned up their act a little bit in the second half (although David Jones apparently receives his instructions from Heat players as was witnessed in the Lance Stephenson fiasco). But I’m telling you that first half was so bad that I am going to break my normal rule about blaming the referee’s and say that we were playing 8 on 5 for the first 24 minutes. But since they did a decent job in the second half I’ll just let it go.
Normally I use this space to pay our respect to our foes however I will forgo that tradition tonight because I honestly have no respect for them.
Yes LeBron is great and yes Wade used to be great and is still very talented but their pre and post game comments are childish and the fact that they depend on officiating to play their game just makes me have zero respect for them. I acknowledge the talent but that is all.
We can’t lie, it was a huge win. Because I can assure you had they come out here and laid an egg and gotten blown out we all would have been lining up to jump off of the bank one building downtown. But they didn’t lay an egg and whether they won by one or by fifty one it was still a win.
A huge colossal giant win against a team that had every bit as much to lose as we did.
Now of course if we go to Washington and get smoked it will hurt but this win gave us some cushion and some breathing room as we have a three game lead but in reality it’s a four game lead because we own all of the tie breakers.
Why did we win? Well first and foremost our defense may have been as good tonight as its been at any point in time this season and this is without a single player on our team blocking a shot. We actually got up 20 more shots than they did and it wasn’t because of offensive rebounds alone. We did out battle them 11-5 on the offensive glass but that was only part of it. We force 18 turnovers and only had 10 ourselves which for us has to be one of the lowest totals of the year.
But on offense there was a very real and concerted effort to move and advance the ball. Yes we went to Roy early and he went nuts but if you watch that starting unit started passing the ball to each other early in the first. I don’t know at what point it occurred but there was a very specific play where Lance had an open three point shot from the top of the three point line and nobody really could have faulted him for taking it instead he passed to a wide open Paul George who had a wide open 3 pointer from closer in the corner. George sunk the three and we were off. Paul later hit Lance for an open 3 of his own so at the very least maybe they understand to beat the Heat (or anyone for that matter) they have to find a way to move the ball for a better shot.
Just so that we don’t blow over any negatives I do want to say this, our bench once again failed to produce against the Heat in any meaningful way. We had a whopping 10 points from our bench and Evan Turner had 8 of them. He had 4 of his 8 while playing with the starters so our bench produced 6 points when together on the floor.
I know we are not supposed to get to up or to down after a win or loss but I am just going to reiterate what I said above, this was big.
This game has been analyzed to death by everyone so there is no need for me to keep beating on this so let’s just give some grades.
Paul George: A
Once again went toe to toe with the best player in the world and did not get abused. The fact that the referee’s were calling it tight in the first half in regard to James was troubling but Paul never backed down from the challenge and flat stole the ball straight up from James was just joyous to watch. I’m still trying to figure out though why when Paul made that monster jam that wasn’t an and 1, I can assure you had that been the other way it would have. But if nothing else we got some competitive fire from Paul tonight and that is really what I’ve wanted to see for awhile.
David West: B+
That three was huge, that’s really not a big enough word for it. It won the game that is for certain. However even though he did a good job on the glass and made some excellent passes and hit all 6 of his free throw attempts the reason I’m giving him this grade is that he has got to start hitting his damned shots at a higher %. Between him and Scola I am wondering if we wouldn’t have a better chance of Dale Davis and Jeff Foster hitting their shots. He also botched up a couple of plays by not taking it up immediately for the shot. But don’t be confused, he had a great overall game.
Roy Hibbert: A+
Here is the thing about Roy. On the one hand he is one of the softest players in the league. He strikes physical fear into no one. However on the other hand this guy might be one of the toughest players ever. This guy gets hammered over and over by James who is a big physical player and Roy steps up to take it every single time and never backs away. Everybody saw the jaw blow but did everybody see later in the 4th the elbow to his sternum? I’m not sure which would hurt more. I hate the fact that he can’t grab 12 rebounds every game or that his offense comes and goes with the tides but I will say this. Night and night out he will put his body on the line and take a beating, now if we could just teach him to give one.
Lance Stephenson: A
I know I’m in the minority here but I’m glad that Lance doesn’t like or bow to the Heat. He bothers them, he really truly gets under their skins and I love it. I fail to see how him yelling “what” at Wade was any more of a taunt than earlier in the game when James drew a foul on him and followed Lance around showing him the and 1 sign. Also let’s not forget that first “T” was total B.S. as Wade pushed him. Was it dumb? Probably but I don’t care all that much, no other team in the NBA would have gotten that to be a “T” but the Heat are such drama queens that they literally were able to convince Jones to call a “T” while they had him surrounded. Now here is the part that bothers me about that. Jones did not have a clear view of everything and Monty McCutchen was looking right at Lance and never raised an arm or blew a whistle, this was manipulation pure and simple. Credit to the Heat for having the refs on a string like that though, sure as hell must be nice.
George Hill: C
Was there a single person really surprised by those misses? George can and has hit clutch huge game saving/winning three point shots, mid range jumpers and even layups but the guy simply put is the least clutch free throw shooter on our team. I honestly would have rather had any other single player on the floor get the ball in that instance. Other than that he just kind of took up space most of the night however while he didn’t get many assists he did do a good job of keeping the ball moving.
Evan Turner: C+
Made up for horrible first half play by being a big time player in the 4th filling in for Lance. He hit 2 shots and got a solid board to help secure the win. He obviously plays better when he has better talent around him. Still not sure if he fits in the long run but at least for this game he did finally contribute.
Ian Mahinmi: C
Did a decent job of attacking the offensive glass. Gave a good foul to LeBron, which Bosh later said was a cloths line. I never really expect offense out of him and I wasn’t disappointed.
Donald Sloan: D
Out of his league to play in a game like this. Did C.J. Watson break his femur or something? My God this guy has been gone forever. We really need to get him back
Luis Scola: D-
The only thing saving him from an F is the fact that he popped James in the nose. Other than that he fed all of us that old Spinal Tap album called Shark sandwich or it’s more popular name **** sandwich. It might be time to give LaVoy Allen a few min. a game.
We still have a horribly tough few games to get through here with the Spurs and the Thunder coming to town (the Wizards won’t be easy by any means either) but if we can just match the Heat the rest of the way or even stay close we have a very good chance to wrap up the first seed and that last Heat game won’t matter.
But let’s hope for more than that, let’s hope that this was the game that turned around the season. When I came back I said that we would have a couple of bad games before this game and that this potentially could wake us up, well the thing I got wrong was that I didn’t think we would beat the Bulls here. I had that backwards but let’s hope I’m right about the rest.
If we can build on this then we will be far better off going into the post season than backing in.
Also on a side note, in today’s game article by the Star Candace Buckner addresses the loss of Danny Granger as a leadership voice in the locker room. I know we were all wondering about that. Looks like there was something to it and I just hope that we can now overcome it.
Enough sullen talk, we won. We beat the Heat and I think this deserves some form of Rock Anthem.