The Indiana Pacers were able to hold off a late surge by the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night to knot the series at 2-2 with a 99-92 victory.
“I just felt the guys showed a lot of fight,” said Pacers power forward David West, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. “We’ve got a group of guys on this team that are full of heart. A tough group, willing to step up to the challenge. We knew this was a make-or-break game for us.”
The Pacers were able to end the game on a 16-6 run, but their defensive approach gave them a significant rebounding advantage on the boards of 49-30 and they outscored Miami 50-32 in the paint.
“That’s what the series is about, who can get to who and do it for longer periods of time. They kept us out the paint,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ll just have to do it better.”
Pacers center Roy Hibbert displayed his repertoire of post skills on both ends of the floor, which proved to be to be a pivotal factor in Tuesday’s game. He finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel challenged his squad to come out fierce and they surely did. The Pacers threw a haymaker at the defending champions at the beginning of the game, starting on an 11-0 run, which sparked the Pacers crowd.
Even though the Heat were able to counter the Pacers runs, the final run proved to be too much for them to handle, especially after Lebron James fouled out with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter.
“It was a couple of fouls that I didn’t feel like were fouls, personal fouls on me, but that’s how the game goes sometimes,” James said.
James appeared to be flustered all night despite finishing with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. He picked up a technical foul in the first quarter and four fouls over the final 12 minutes, leading to his sixth foul and the second time he has fouled out of a postseason game.
However, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade did not play to their All-Star potential either. Wade finished with 16 points and Bosh finished with rebounds. The three All-Stars combined for 14-of-39 from the field, which was agonizing for the Heat fans to witness.
Now the Heat must go back and regroup for Thursday’s game in Miami. If Miami displays the same effort as Tuesday night, then they could be facing elimination come Saturday in Indiana. The Pacers are now 3-1 against the Heat at home this season and 7-1 at home in the playoffs.
“We’re never going to give up. We’re relentless,” Hibbert said. “All those guys in there, they believe we can win. No matter what all the analysts or whoever says anything…”