The Indiana Pacers won two elimination games in the first round against Atlanta to extend their playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals. They are one more defeat from extinction, and this time the opponent is the two-time champion Miami Heat.
“He’s got to make a decision at some point in his life, that no matter what, we’re not going to lose this fight anymore,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, likening the Pacers to the little brother in a big-brother-little-brother scenario. “We’re at that point.”
The Heat, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh leading the way, put Indiana in its unenviable position, taking Game 3 of the series 102-90 Sunday to seize a commanding 3-1 series advantage. To wit: When holding a 3-1 lead, Miami is 8-0 in Game 5s over the past four postseasons.
James had 32 points and 10 rebounds and Bosh had 25 as the Heat’s championship mettle shone through.
“We got outplayed by the Heat,” Vogel said. “I wasn’t disappointed in our fight. I was disappointed in the result.”
Game 5 is Wednesday in Indianapolis, which offers some solace to the Pacers. But not much.
“We have a chance to play an NBA game on our home floor,” Indy forward David West said. “We are going to try to do something that’s very tough.”
Miami made 19 more free throws than the Pacers and never seemed seriously threatened, even as Indiana hung relatively close unit the fourth quarter. It was then that Miami’s poise and experience made the difference.
“We try to get better every single day, every single game,” James said. “When you do that and go out and play the type of game that you are capable of playing, you can be satisfied with the results. And that’s what we’ve built over the years.”