LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 70 points as they led the Miami Heat to a crucial Game 4 win over the Indiana Pacers. Only 4% of NBA teams that have fallen behind 3-1 in a postseason series came back to advance, so it was critical for the Heat to split their away games. It was refreshing for Heat fans everywhere to see those two players at their highest level again. Since the Heat's Game 3 loss, many basketball fans and sports media were already writing the obituary for their 2011-2012 season. Trade rumors surrounding Dwyane Wade began to swirl. As an NBA fan, I'm glad we can put this insanity to rest, and continue to focus on the on-court performance of two of the best players in the league.
The Pacers got off to an early 9-0 start, and Wade began the game shooting 1-8 from the field. It looked like the Heat were going to struggle once again, but the Pacers were missed too many shots in the first quarter, including several open looks and attempts in transition. Despite ending the first quarter up 8, their lead could easily have been north of 12, but Indiana failed to take advantage of Miami's offensive troubles, when LeBron matched the combined total of his teammates with 9 points.
In the second quarter, Dwyane Wade continued to struggle offensively, but maintained his defensive intensity throughout. When he hit a 3 over Pacers guard Paul George, late in the quarter, Wade caught fire. Between the second and third quarters, Wade and LeBron scored the next 38 Heat points. The Heat's defensive performance was also solid, as evidenced by a 17-2 run in the third quarter that got them their lead for good.
After his early difficulties, Wade shot 12-15 to finish with 30 points. The Heat entered the game shooting 12% from 3-point range in the series, but made 5-12 in Game 4. Now the series shifts to Miami. The Heat must continue to improve their play without Chris Bosh. The Pacers got away from their strength inside with David West and Roy Hibbert in Game 4. They are a well-coached team, so it is difficult to imagine they don't make that adjustment before Tuesday night.
Philip is a lifelong NBA fan and has followed the Miami Heat closely since The Decision.