Well, with yesterday having been the final day featuring multiple NBA games until next season, I now have a lot less to write about. I will, however, probably write a bit more about each remaining game than I would have otherwise. It’s the end of an era, nonetheless, and we have a hell of a game here to talk about. Let’s get to it.
Miami Heat 115, Indiana Pacers 83: Miami leads series 3-2
Well, we knew the series was chippy, but apparently we now have evidence that it’s REALLY chippy. The game was physical throughout, but then Tyler Hansbrough fouled Dwyane Wade on a drive to the hoop and things got interesting. Hansbrough was assessed a flagrant-one for following through on his block attempt and raking Wade across the face. Only a few possessions later, Udonis Haslem retaliated with an extremely hard foul as Hansbrough went to the rim. Replays indicated that it probably should have been called a flagrant-two, resulting in Haslem’s ejection, but it was called a flagrant-one on the floor and that was that. Nevertheless, the game appeared to have moved on until the Heat’s Dexter Pittman decided that the waning seconds of a 30+ point game was the perfect time to viciously elbow the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson in the throat. This also garnered a flagrant-one. Somehow.
Presumably, Pittman will be suspended for some time, Haslem will get a fine and a slap on the wrist and that will be that because a Celtics-Pacers East Finals is ratings hell for the NBA, but Heat-Celtics is ratings gold. That’s just the way it works. It’s the same reason Dwyane Wade was neither suspended nor even ejected after blindsiding Darren Collison in game two. Of course, given Wade’s play in game three, he might as well have been suspended, but still. Expect UD to be in uniform and on the court for game six in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, I’m skeptical that we’ll see a game seven in this series. The Heat came out in the second half and more or less ran the Pacers off the court. Wade and LeBron James did their thing — Wade had 28 points and LeBron followed up his historic 40-18-9 with a 30-10-8 — and the Pacers started throwing up bricks. Roy Hibbert was mostly awful, aside from a three-pointer to beat the shot clock in the second quarter, and with Danny Granger out with a sprained ankle suffered towards the end of the second quarter, the Pacers had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
Speaking of Granger, he’s the other reason I don’t see this series going seven. He says he’ll play on Thursday, but how much and how effectively? The Pacers don’t really have the firepower to keep up with LeBron and Wade even with a healthy Granger. Without him? Yeah…not so much. We’ll see though, I guess.
Wednesday, May 23rd:
Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Game 6, 7 PM CDT, ESPN