Heat Win Game 7 with Suffocating Defense

Heat Win Game 7 with Suffocating Defense

The Indiana Pacers outshot the Miami Heat in the first half and was still behind 52-37 due to Miami’s suffocating defense. The Heat forced 15 turnovers (Udonis Haslem, left, and Mario Chalmers double team Roy Hibbert in the photo) to only five for the Pacers in the half. The Heat’s pressure nullified the Pacers’ size advantage that had been decisive in much of the series, giving the Heat a 4-3 series win and a trip to the Finals to play the San Antonio Spurs.

James finished with 32 Points and Wade added 21 and twice as many offensive rebounds (six) as anyone else on the court in the 99-76 win. A look at the Four Factors that determine who wins basketball games shows how the Heat used steals and offensive rebounds to pull away by halftime:

1st Half Stats Points Possessions Efficiency eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Indiana 37 48 0.77 0.517 0.311 0.133 0.367
Miami 52 47 1.10 0.444 0.106 0.360 0.289

Fans focus on shooting, and the Pacers had a 51.7 percent effective Field Goal percentage (field goal percentage with an extra half shot made credited for every three-pointer) to a weak shooting 44.4 percent for the Heat in the first half. However, the Heat forced the Pacers to turn the ball over on 31.1 percent of their trips down the court in the first half, while the Heat turned it over on only 10.6 percent of trips.

More surprisingly, while the Heat was shooting poorly, they were grabbing 36 percent of their missed shots. The bigger Pacers who had dominated the glass throughout the series grabbed only 13.3 percent of their misses in the first half. Put it together and the Pacers scored 37 points on their 48 trips down the court, while the Heat scored 52 points on 47 trips.

While James continued to be the most dominant player on the court, he received the help he did not get in the Game 6 blowout by the Pacers.

With Indiana up 19-17, Dwyane Wade stole the ball from Roy Hibbert and slammed after faking out Lance Stephenson on the drive to tie the score 19-19.

Early in the second quarter James grabbed a Paul George miss and fired ahead to Ray Allen, who finally buried a three-pointer to give Miami a 26-23 lead. The all-time leader in playoff three-pointers then hit another one with 8:47 left in the half off a pass from Norris Cole to make it 31-27.

With 3:21 to go in the half, James drove and kicked it back out to Allen, who buried a third trey of the quarter to make it 46-34.

With the Heat forcing the Pacers to turn the ball in almost one in three Pacers trips down the court, that was plenty of offense. Miami led 52-37 at the half, and the Heat was not looking back on Monday, surging into the NBA Finals against the Spurs.

James had 18 points by the half, Chris Bosh had eight rebounds, and Wade had 10 points and three rebounds en route to the blowout.