MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Game 7. Eastern Conference Finals. The last time the Miami Heat were in this situation, they were coming off a convincing Game 6 win in 2012 and blew out the Boston Celtics 101-88.
What a difference a year makes.
When Game 7 tips off Monday night between the Heat and the Indiana Pacers, it’s the Heat that are coming off a demoralizing loss and looking like a team that has no answers for the Pacers’ size and defense.
Perhaps the biggest question Miami will have to answer is what the team will get from center Chris Bosh and shooting guard Dwyane Wade? Both are dealing with injuries and both have been a shell of their former self during the Eastern Conference Finals.
Bosh has averaged 12.5 points during the playoffs and is shooting just 47.7 percent from the floor. While those numbers are respectable, for a player earning $17.55 million a season and one-third of the Big Three, it’s not going to cut it in the playoffs.
Beyond that, Bosh has looked lost throughout much of the series against Indiana and was a shell of the player he has been this season. But Bosh isn’t alone in shouldering the blame for the poor play of the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Wade has been just as bad, if not worse, during the playoff run. He’s been battling a deep knee bruise and it’s severely limited the typical explosion he has to the basket. Without that ability, Wade has been unable to get going in the series and hasn’t scored 20 points in more than 10 games, the longest streak of his career.
The shooting guard is averaging just 13.6 points and shooting just 44.8 percent from the field after shooting the highest percentage of his career for a regular season in 2013.
Beyond Wade and Bosh, Ray Allen and Shane Battier have both gone into shooting funks during the conference finals. Allen, arguably the best three-point shooter in NBA history is shooting just 28.3 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from behind the three-point line.
Battier isn’t helping his cause by putting up horrendous shooting numbers in the series. Battier is averaging just 2.3 points and is shooting 12.5 percent from the field and 13.3 percent from behind the three-point line.
The only constant has been LeBron James who has averaged 28.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.5 assists during the Eastern Conference Finals. James, like he used to do in Cleveland, has carried the Heat to the brink of the NBA Finals, but he can’t beat the Pacers alone.
The biggest question for the Heat is will any other player on the squad step up their game to help LeBron carry the load. If no one does against Indiana Monday night, there will be calls for major changes from fans and many in the media will start to speculate whether the Heat’s Big Three-era is done.