Miami Heat Confidence Meter: 9.6 (Wade is pretty good.)
• After much success using Shane Battier on David West, denying the post and pestering his every move, the Pacers made a slight adjustment and West punished Battier in the post. His offensive minded game however hurt his rebounding as he was always trying to finish and was caught in the pick & roll all night. David West will be a much more effective player next season as he will be a full season removed from what was a pretty severe knee injury. You usually just toss the first year back from a ACL injury, and to be as effective as he was this year, is impressive. That is the extent of the Pacers improvement for next year as Roy Hibbert is poised to be overpaid. It will be interesting if the Indiana Pacers hold the line on a Hibbert contract. Their future as a contender for the 2nd banana spot in the Eastern Conference is at stake. Talk of Larry Bird leaving the Pacers after winning the Executive of the Year award will make for another interesting storyline for the Pacers this offseason. But enough about losers.
• The Pacers sure talked a lot of smack and backed up little of it. George Hill acquitted himself well in the series, but the rest, well, not so much. The Heat had a lot to do with it, of course, but some of it was under their control. Danny Granger is a limited player that is not living up to his contract. His penchant for getting torched and embarrassed by Lebron James is not a good thing in a conference dominated by the 3 time MVP. Paul George has proven to be more hype than anything else. People fall in love with young athletic tall guards, and forget to watch their games. To think that Professional Halftime Clown Charles Barkley actually attempted to make a case that Paul George was a better player than Chris Bosh, makes his series that much more sweet. While getting torched by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, he contributed little offensively, and shot a paltry 35% for the series. He got annihilated in his matchup and was the Pacers worst starter. The very definition of a detrimental player. But somebody whispered in Barkley’s ear that he was a good player, and he just repeated it. But we already knew what a terrible analysts Charles Barkley is, so I digress.
• What Udonis Haslem (suspended for Game 6) did for Dwyane Wade in Game 5, Dwyane Wade reciprocated in Game 6. He handed him the game ball on the team plane. Well deserved. Needless to say that the Heat was annoyed that they had to travel with Haslem, and planned to have him in uniform when the suspension came down. The NBA did a poor job in being swift with their ruling. What can you say for LeBron James other than, his game “felt” unimpressive and then you take a gander at the boxscore and see 28-6-7 on over 50% shooting, and you just marvel. The best player in the world, and it is not close. Dwyane Wade, after having his worst game as a pro in game 3, has turned in three consecutive vintage performances. His play leading into this game 6, prompted me to predict a “40 burger”. Well there you have it. So how did it happen? Easy. A series of high pick & rolls, and a slow footed Big in Roy Hibbert backing up into the paint. You still have to drop all those shots though, and he did. Dwyane Wade was in kill mode and it was a target rich environment. Here came the trap, splits it, and finishes. He also deserved at least 4 more free throws on and-ones as well. The Pacers had no answer except fouling.
• So after all the talk about “role players”, the Heat fill the boxscore with them on this night. Mike Miller was great, and his work defensively will go unsung due to his 4-7 night from three. Mario Chalmers was great with his 15 points on efficient shooting and ZERO turnovers. I stand by my projection of RIO becoming a better player than what Derek Fisher was in his championship winning prime. I have always been high on Chalmers, and he is showing his value to this team in these playoffs. Joel Anthony is a true “No-Stat All-star”. His work defensively is stellar, and he might be the best pick setter in basketball. You can isolate successful Heat offensive possessions, and see how his work as a off the ball screener makes a difference. As for Chris Bosh‘s status for the Eastern Conference Finals, he is close to court work, and I would not be surprised to see him shooting / practicing this weekend. “Close” is the only way I can characterize his playing status.
The Heat is Home for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday Night. Tipoff is at 8:30pm.