Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When crunch time hits in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night, the Miami Heat have to wonder if anyone on the team not named LeBron James can step up and hit the big shot.
Since the Eastern Conference Finals started, the Pacers have been battling LeBron, who has almost won the series single-handedly. Even James said after one game that he had to revert back to his days in Cleveland when he was a one-man wrecking crew.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, plus a host of other talented players to help out. But against Indiana, Wade, Bosh, and the rest of the Heat have virtually disappeared from the court.
Part of it is due to Indiana’s smothering defense, which is one of the best in the NBA. Part of it also has to do with injuries Wade and Bosh have been dealing with, namely a bruised knee and sprained ankle respectively.
Still, it’s the playoffs and everyone is banged up a little bit. The bigger problem is what happened to the Heat’s shooters, namely Ray Allen and Shane Battier.
Allen and Battier were supposed to help space the floor for the Heat and allow James and Wade open lanes to get to the bucket. In theory, and during the regular season, the plan worked to perfection. But during the Eastern Conference Finals, Allen and Battier have struggled.
Allen is shooting 28.3 percent from the floor and 29.2 percent from downtown. Even his normally dead-on free throw shooting has fallen off to just 63.6 percent. Battier has been even worse shooting 12.5 percent from the floor and 13.3 percent from behind the three-point line.
Combined, both player play more than 42 minutes per game, but have only generated apoproxmiately 11.2 points per game in the conference finals.
The two bright spots for the Heat have been Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen, although his suspension for Game 6 was a back-breaker. Chalmers has averaged 12 points and 3 assists per game while Andersen hasn’t missed a shot and is averaging 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds against the Pacers.
So what will the Heat do in Game 7?
The squad will only go as far as the Big Three can take them and if the combination of Bosh, James, and Wade don’t go for at least 60 points; Miami could be in deep trouble. The Heat could also turn to Mike Miller who played well in the second-half against Indiana in Game 6.
One player from the combination of Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Andersen, Norris Cole, Battier, Allen, and Miller will have to step up to give a boost to the Heat. Otherwise, all of them could be watching the Finals from the comfort of a couch.