2012 NBA Playoff Picks: Pacers Force Heat Into Game 7?
In a series that’s very reminiscent of the way basketball used to be played in the 1980s, the Indiana Pacers will try and force a decisive game 7 against the Miami Heat Thursday night. After falling 1-2 due to back-to-back loses, LeBron James & Co. appear to have regained control of their no-holds barred, best-of-seven series with a 115-83 blowout victory in game 5.
However, with the scenery shifting back to Indy and with potential suspensions to Udonis Haslem and/or Dexter Pittman looming, the Pacers would appear to be in great shape to force a winner-takes-all affair Saturday night. Game 6 has a scheduled opening tipoff slated for Thursday night at 8 PM ET from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
It’s clear that things got a little out of hand in game 5, as there were three flagrant-1 fouls called, two which could prove costly for Miami. As it is customary, the league reviews all flagrant and technical fouls issued during games and NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Stu Jackson then decides whether these calls stay, are reversed and/or if suspensions would be granted.
The fact that neither Haslem nor Pittman — whose fouls came as retaliation for comments by Pacers players or previous hard plays — appeared to be making a play for the ball certainly makes this situation very worrisome for Miami’s chances of closing out the series on the road.
Although the Heat should be hearing from Jackson either Wednesday or early Thursday morning in regards to these suspensions, it’s very likely that at least one of those players will spend some time in street clothes Thursday.
“There’s been plenty of hard fouls in this game and the league will review it,” said concerned Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra following his team’s victory Tuesday night. “We thought [they] were making a play on the ball.
“It’s a physical series. That’s how it is. Nobody wants to make it more than what it is. We have to beat them at the game of basketball. Anything that’s over the line, we don’t want any of that. But we have to play physical. We have to play with force. They’re doing the same thing.”
Sure the Pacers have been playing very physical all series long, there’s no doubt about that. However, there’s a difference between physical play and dirty play, which is what Miami reverted to in game 5. There’s also no doubt that there’s a very thin line between these two.
Having that said, by comparison, you can clearly see that Tyler Hansbrough was trying to block’s Dwyane Wade’s shot when he caught him, in contrast to Haslem’s and Pittman’s obvious retaliation.
According to Pacers’ President of Basketball Operations, Larry Bird, what happened in game 5 is nothing more than Miami being physical and his team turning “soft.”
“I can’t believe my team went soft,” Bird told The Indianapolis Star today. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”
When asked to elaborate on his comments, Larry Legend simply said, “That’s all I have to say.”
What should we expect to see in game 5? Will the Pacers take the physical play to the next level as a result of Bird’s comments?
It’s certainly worth noting that right now, NBA betting oddsmakers have listed Miami as a 2-point favorite over the Pacers in game 5. I can tell you with certainty that, that’s a bet I would be willing to take, especially considering how fired up Indy will be! With a 2-point cushion, I like the Pacers over Miami… get ready for game 7 and don’t be surprised if someone gets hurt in this one.
“I agree with his assessment. We did play soft,” said Indiana’s Danny Granger in response to Bird’s comments. “We got smacked around. We got beat up, we got bullied, and we really didn’t respond well.
“I’ve been with Larry since I’ve been in Indiana for seven years. He’s not been one to hold his tongue, and 99 percent of the time what he’s saying is right. I think he just called out what everyone else saw. We played a soft game. We didn’t play with the playoff intensity that we needed to win.”