Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat are a team in turmoil as they prepare for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers.
The Heat are missing power forward/center Chris Bosh for the rest of this series and possibly the rest of the playoffs. Then during Thursday night’s Game 3, the Heat completely imploded en route to a 94-75 loss to the Pacers, who took a 2-1 lead in the series.
Much of the blame for Game 3’s loss fell on the shoulder of the greatest Heat player ever, shooting guard Dwyane Wade. The All-Star guard managed just 5 points on 2-13 shooting and just 1-2 from the free throw line and committed five turnovers.
During the Game 3 blowout, Wade lashed out at Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. It was the boiling point of Wade’s worst playoff game ever as a member of the Miami Heat. Several Miami players stepped in before the confrontation escalated.
Coach Spoelstra blew it off saying it happens on teams. But Friday, the Heat abruptly cancelled the team’s scheduled practice and announced they would not be available to the media at any point on Friday.
Wade has struggled at times during the playoffs while shooting 43 percent from the field. He’s shooting just 15 percent from behind the 3-point line and is hitting just 70 percent of his free throws in the eight playoff games the Heat have played in this year.
For his playoff career, Wade is averaging the fewest minutes, points, rebounds, assists, lowest shooting percentage and second-lowest free throw shooting percentage in the 2012 playoffs.
But Wade is far from the only player struggling on the Heat’s roster. The only player who stepped up his game in Game 3 was point guard Mario Chalmers. He was 10-15 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line and ended up with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 0 turnovers.
No one quite knows what to do to spark the Heat since Bosh went down in Game 1 against the Pacers.
Spoelstra experimented with a lineup that included Dexter Pittman and Shane Battier in Game 3. The duo combined to shoot 0-9 and collected a total of 3 rebounds and 3 fouls.
Udonis Haslem once again failed to show up going 0-2 from the field and rookie Norris Cole also laid a goose-egg on the scoreboard for the Heat.
The Heat were hammered on the boards and its defense allowed the Pacers’ two big men, Roy Hibbert and David West, to shoot 48 percent from the field en route to 33 points. The dynamic duo also managed to pull down 27 rebounds.
All of it has left Heat fans grasping at straws and trying to find some reason to hope the team can come back in this series.
The one thing Heat fans can take solace in is that the worst thing an opponent can see is an angry and focused Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Spoelstra will have to let the Pacers big men be guarded by others besides LeBron to keep him from wearing down.
If Spo can come up with the right defense and keep LeBron and Wade fresh into the second-half, then the Heat have a solid chance in Game 4. But, the Pacers are firing on all cylinders and Miami will have to find a way to calm the storm because the home crowd for the Pacers will be rocking on Sunday.