MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Going back to last years Eastern Conference Finals the Heat and the Pacers had alternated wins every time they played, a 13-game stretch. Miami had won every single game at home so far in the 2014 Playoffs. Indiana had won five straight on the road. One way or another, something had to give.
Something did give, with the Miami Heat coming back from a 15-point 1st half deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 99-87 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami now leads the series 2 games to 1.
Games like this are what the Heat is built for; deep in the playoffs with a chance to swing a series in their own favor. While the results are what most people were expecting, the game didn’t start out the way that most Heat wins tend to do.
Miami came out flat, struggling to find their rhythm during an ugly opening quarter. Indiana jumped out to a 17-4 lead in the first 8:31 of the game, but the Heat had a lot to do with the Pacers success. Miami missed eight of its first 10 shots while turning the ball over seven times during that span.
By the halfway point of the 2nd quarter, Indiana had built a 15-point lead. One thing about this Heat team is that they never panic. Despite all their early struggles, Miami knew that there were plenty of possessions left for them to get back into this game. The Heat has been in this situation before, and their coach knew that it was too early to count his team out.
“A lot of our situations that we’ve been through where we’ve struggled have been against this team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s what they do to you. They’re very good. But we had no choice but try to re-gather.”
Miami would do just that, led by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The Heat closed the 2nd quarter on a 16-5 run, closing the game down to four heading into halftime.
“We don’t want to keep digging holes,” said LeBron. “We hate the way we played to start the game. But we’re a confident group. We don’t panic.”
James led Miami with 26 points, shooting 9 of 14 from the field while adding five rebounds and seven assists. He did all that despite giving Heat fans everywhere a good scare when he limped back into the Heat’s locker room at the end of the 3rd quarter. Suffering from cramps, James would get treatment in the hallway outside the locker room and returned to the game shortly after.
The 4th quarter was all Miami, with James, Wade and Ray Allen leading the way. Allen had his best game of the 2014 Playoffs, going 4 for 4 from 3-point range in the final quarter. His final 3-pointer would stretch Miami’s lead to 15 with just 2:50 left in the game before a Chris Bosh layup would cap the lead at 17.
“Just personally, there was a rhythm there in the fourth quarter,” said Allen following the win. “Despite how we started, for 2 ½, 3 quarters you could see we attacked, we were aggressive and we ran the stuff we wanted to run. We got stops and we were able to run in transition.”
The trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen outscored the entire Pacers team 47-45 in the 2nd half.
The loss has to be a tough pill to swallow for Indiana who seemingly gave Miami their best shot at the beginning of the game, only to see the Heat come back and dominate the game when it most counted.
“You can’t play around with this team,” Pacers forward Paul George said. “I thought we got comfortable at one point.”
Game 4 is Monday night at the American Airlines Arena.