We’re going to pick up from the Heat-Pacers game 6 from halftime, with the Heat up 40-39. I’m going to adopt a diary style column, modeled after Bill Simmons’ annual Draft Diary. Every few minutes, my rambling and entirely biased desire for the Pacers to beat the Heat will be strewn out briefly. So far, the Pacers have missed between 15 and 100 layups/dunks. LeBron is carrying the Heat, per usual, as the Heat don’t look any different than his Cavs teams in the past. Wade and Bosh are banged up and providing little more than Boobie Gibson, Mo Williams, and Anderson Varejao ever did in LeBron’s throwback days. Wade and Bosh have combined to go 1-10 so far, providing for an intriguing opportunity for LeBron to do his best Jordan impressions. I can’t imagine any scenario where LeBron DIDN’T leave the Heat after next season. Wade will be as close to washed up as a superstar can be, and while Bosh may still have plenty left, he’s proved himself to be a nice 3rd option, but not an ideal sidekick.
9:52 p.m. EST: Hibbert tips in a missed lay up by George Hill, and continues his dominant series. After this series, Hibbert has to be considered one of the 3 or 4 best centers in the league. I can’t think of a single guy I’d take over him. Dwight, Bynum, and Gasol are all nice, but if Hibbert stays on the floor over 35 mpg, he is a 20 and 10 guy easily.
9:55– David West FINALLY hits his first field goal of the game. Somehow, West has perennially been of the most underrated players in the league. Check out his career stats. For seven out of eight seasons, he’s been a 17-7 guy easily and aside from his season lost to a torn ACL, he’s been fairly durable. If West replaced Bosh on the Heat, does anyone really think there would be a significant drop off?
9:59– Wade just missed a wide open lay-up, leading Reggie Miller to proclaim “something is wrong with Dwyane Wade” and Marv Albert to yell out “What is going on here?!” Paul George was then called for an offensive foul, prompting LeBron to fall back like he was just shot. LeBron is not only the best player in the league, but also the best flopper. Hands down.
10:03– Reggie Miller is flabergasted that Dwyane Wade touch-passed, deferring to Mario Chalmers–the ultimate sign he has no confidence. Chalmers is basically the big three’s whipping boy, who always gets the blame.
10:09– Paul George hits a loooooooooong 3 to put the Pacers up 11 with just under five minutes left in the quarter. George has established himself as perhaps the second best player in the Easter Conference, after LeBron. Depending on how D-Rose comes back from injury next injury, George is either the second or third best player in the conference.
10:14– With two and a half minutes left in the third quarter, the Heat have just 6 points in the quarter. LeBron hasn’t touched the ball in a few possessions, and Wade just missed another shot, after the entire Pacers crowd chanted “HE’S A FLOPPER!!!!” when Wade was at the line. LeBron scores on a floater, prompting Kerr to mention that LeBron added the floater to counter Roy Hibbert’s height. Kerr makes it seem like a video game, that whatever LeBron needs to add to his game, he adds. The Pacers are now up in this quarter 25-9, up 17 in the game. Looks like we’re headed for a Game 7.
10:19– LeBron goes to the line for the first time in the game with 2 seconds left in the third quarter. The crowd is chanting “HE’S A FLOPPER!!!!!” even louder for LeBron than they did for West. Now, the Pacers somehow turned the ball over trying to throw to halfcourt for a desperation heave, leading to a LeBron steal and David West foul. They give the Heat two free points with a David West foul. Going into the fourth quarter, the Heat are only down 68-55, instead of 68-51. If the Pacers somehow blow this game, they can look at this play as the catalyst.
10:26– George Hill just fired a pass to Hibbert, except he looked Patrick Ramsay and fired the pass so high that it hit the backboard. The Pacers have now turned the ball on the first few possessions of the fourth quarter, putting Ray Allen at the line with a chance to get this game in single digits. The last thing Indiana wants is for this game to be decided in the final minutes, giving LeBron a chance to take over.
10:30– Finally, Vogel calls a timeout sensing his team is about to collapse before his eyes. The Pacers should’ve had this game in the bag, but their offense has stopped going through Hibbert, and started turning it over every possession. George Hill is serviceable, but far from ideal. If Indiana had a stud in their backcourt, there’s no telling how good they’d be. I know they needed a point guard, and already had Granger and Paul George, but it’s hard not to imagine how good their perimeter defense would be if they had kept Kawhi Leonard and paired him with Paul George.
10:34– Mike Miller returned from the dead and hit a 3, cutting the lead down to 9. Then after a short Indiana possession, he hit ANOTHER 3, cutting it to 70-64. Things aren’t looking good for Indiana at all. This looks like a classic playoff choke. Thankfully, Norris Cole missed a wide open 3 that would’ve cut the lead to 6. Steve Kerr remarks “You wonder if Indiana is starting to feel the pressure”…
10:37–Mike Miller, looking like Ginobili, stripped Hibbert of the ball leading to a runout for LeBron. The lead is cut to four with under six minutes to go, and Indiana looks destined to lose this game. Paul George takes a BIG three and makes it. Paul George and Hibbert are going to need to step up and carry Indiana home.
10:44– LeBron goes up against Hibbert and is called for an offensive foul, which is a good call according to Steve Kerr. LeBron went NUTS and sprinted back the floor in the opposite direction, absolutely losing his cool. To make matters worse (well better actually), the assistant coach is also T’ed up as well. This is Indiana’s chance to put the game away. Hibbert then scored a bucket down low, going toe-to-toe with LeBron in the past few minutes, and getting the better of LeBron. LeBron most likely just called Stern during that timeout and threatened to retire if he doesn’t get every call in Game 7.
10:53– After another 3 by Paul George, the Pacers have this thing wrapped up, up 15 with a minute left in the game. This thing will go back to Miami for a Game 7, and if it’s anything like these past two games, LeBron will receive no help. Reggie Miller just read that the Pacers have outrebounded the Heat 52-32 and they outscored the Heat by 20 in the paint. It’s been a classic beatdown. The Heat don’t look even close to the same team that won 27 games in a row during the regular season. Without Dwyane Wade playing even close to well, and Bosh averaging three rebounds a game, the Heat look more vulnerable than ever before.
10:57– Steve Kerr sounds panicked, saying the Heat are “a lifeless team” and that Spoelstra needs to do something to fire them up for Monday night. We’re headed for an epic Game 7, for the second year in a row in the Eastern Conference Finals. Roy Hibbert in a very emotional post-game interview, told Craig Sager that his dad is sitting courtside and the Pacers are ready to go back to South Beach for Game 7. Reggie Miller keeps repeating that LeBron needs help or the Heat will be in trouble. The NBA world will all be hoping that the Pacers take down the Heat and end their chance of a repeat campaign.