I don’t know at this juncture if Miami beats San Antonio even with the extra rest. But with what they had at stake, the Heat should have been even more desperate than Paul George, Roy Hibbert and all of Indiana staving off elimination Saturday night.
See, for the Heat this wasn’t merely about avoiding a Game 7 on its home court Monday night in Miami; if it could dispense of the Pacers in six games – instead of getting run over, 91-77, in this deafening building that pierced the inner eardrum like it was the 2000 Finals — Dwyane Wade’s right knee is afforded recuperation time before Miami faced San Antonio in Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday night.
Now we get a duct-taped, fading, tender-ligament all-star who managed just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting. D-Wade is so banged up he is barely physically able to be part of LeBron’s supporting cast in a deciding game, which is three nights before someone has to play the Spurs.
Now we get an invisible 6-foot-11 perimeter player named Chris Bosh, suddenly afflicted with the confidence of an acne-covered, 14-year-old at his first school dance. Bosh made 1 of 8 shots and gathered four rebounds in 31 minutes. His shot is flat, almost hideous. He doesn’t hit the glass; he massages and caresses it. He didn’t look like a player who had another lousy game afterward in the locker room; he looked and sounded like his house had just been foreclosed on.
“I have to get back in the gym and work on my game,” Bosh said in an almost withdrawn way. “That’s about the only thing that will help me now. My rhythm seems off, it’s been like that the whole series. And now I have to go find it. I’ve got 48 hours to do that.”
Of course the Heat’s inability to get the job done wasn’t just its own fault. The Pacers had a lot to do with Miami’s demise and they don’t get the short shrift here. George was a money player in the biggest game of his career, dropping in long-range jumpers, breaking down a relentless Heat defense for 28 points, answering every Heat run with a bucket of his own.
Within a year, he is probably going to be one of the top five wing players in the game, right behind Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and a healthy Kobe Bryant. He is that good.
And Hibbert — 24 points, 11 boards, mean-mugging after yet another Pacer putback! Believe it. Big Roy, the Georgetown 18-year-old who couldn’t stay on a Stairmaster past the 5.0 setting because he was too uncoordinated, is now gangsta in the post.
He is nothing short of a godsend to the American center position, a job so many old-school observers believed had been farmed overseas forever.