Not too long ago, there was widespread concern about the health of the Miami Heat — the players and the team’s immediate future. Not so much anymore.
Not after last night’s Game 5 demolition of the Indiana Pacers. The Heat, lead again by league MVP LeBron James and his superstar sidekick Dwyane Wade, dominated Indiana, 115-83, Tuesday night to take a 3-2 series lead. Just last week, Miami trailed the series 2-1 with Game 4 in Indianaoplis.
Since then, James and Wade have been awesome. Tuesday night James had 30 points and Wade 28 as the Heat broke open a close game just before halftime and made it a mockery after the break. Miami will look to close out the Pacers Thursday night in Indiana
”This is our challenge right now, to leave it behind us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”A lot of good things (happened Tuesday), but we have to focus on the next one.”
James added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Shane Battier, a defensive specialist, scored 13 points, including three three-pointers to open the game. Miami lead the entire game and shot a team-record 61 percent from the floor.
It was not all good for the Heat, though. Forward Udanis Haslem could face suspension for blatant retaliation foul against the Pacers’ Tyler Hansborough. Haslem crashed both hands into Hansborough’s face and shoulder on a drive to the basket. The officials ruled it a flagrant foul I, which was just a technical foul. But replays show Haslem made no play on the ball and the league could elevate the original call to a flagrant II or a suspension.
Meanwhile, the Pacers are banged up. Forward Danny Granger left with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter, and David West left with what the Pacers called a left knee sprain. X-rays on Granger were negative, and he’s listed as day-to-day.
Aside from Haslem’s play on Hansborough, there was Hansborough’s flagrant foul call on a play against Wade. And with just 19.4 seconds remaining, Miami scub reserve center Dexter Pittman went across the lane to send a forearm into the chin area of Indiana’s Lance Stephenson – who was caught on camera making a choke sign toward James during the Pacers’ Game 3 win, drawing the ire of the Miami locker room.
So guess how the next game will be played. ”Game 6 is going to be physical,” Wade said. ”We’ve got to understand that this team has a lot of pride. Their crowd is going to be ready. They’re going to come out with a lot of energy. We’ve got to withstand that first hit and still be standing. We’re ready for it.’