MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat were in deep trouble heading into halftime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. NBA MVP LeBron James let his team know about it and by the time the team was on the court for the third quarter, James decided to do something about it.
LeBron came out of halftime on fire and scored 16 of his 30 points during the third quarter and helped put the game out of reach to give the Heat a 3-2 series lead. The game by James saved the Heat from going down 3-2 and now the Pacers have to do something no team has done since early January, beat the Heat two times in a row.
A victory in Game 5 was also crucial from a historical point of view. In seven-game series’ the team that has won Game 5 has gone on to win the series 83 percent of the time. Granted that Miami turned that on its head last year when Boston took Game 5 only to lose in seven games in the conference finals.
This year, when Game 6 tips off Saturday night in Indianapolis, it will be the Pacers who are just four quarters away from being ejected from the playoffs. And if LeBron and company play like they did Thursday night, it may be time to book reservations for San Antonio.
“That’s what I came here for, to be able to compete for a championship each and every year,” James said. “I’m one step away from doing it once again. It’s not promised. It’s not promised at all. I made a tough decision. Obviously, I think we all know the story. I envisioned something that was bigger as far as a team … and we’ve got an opportunity as a team, once again, for the third year straight to make a trip to the NBA Finals.”
It wasn’t necessarily what LeBron said in the locker room or in the huddle before the third quarter as much as it was a cold, emotionless stare that typically accompanies the greatest player in the world completely taking over a game.
And that’s exactly what LeBron did.
“That’s LeBron showing his greatness and making it look easy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “What we talked about was doing whatever it takes and competing for each other without leaving anything out there. His engine in that third quarter was incredible. He was tireless, he was making plays on both ends of the court, rebounding, covering so much ground defensively and then making virtually every play for us offensively. It’s really remarkable.”
James has had to revert to a degree to his Cleveland Cavaliers days as Dwyane Wade has been ineffective and Chris Bosh has been quieted while trying to put up some sort of defense against the Pacers imposing front line.
But James wasn’t alone during the game changing third quarter as Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem helped pick up the scoring slack. Perhaps most impressive was the Heat shutting down every one on the Pacers not named Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert.
The Pacers’ Big Three scored a combined 66 points and grabbed 25 rebounds, but beyond those three the rest of the team scored a total of 13 points. For comparison, LeBron, Bosh, and Wade scored 57 points and pulled down 17 rebounds while the rest of the team scored 43 points in the victory.
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