Too Hot To Handle: Recapping Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during pregame festivities. Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during pregame festivities. Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

I took notes on everything I was thinking throughout Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, so here are my summarized thoughts in some semblance of chronological order:

  • Let’s start with what I was looking for heading into the game:
      • Would LeBron bounce back after his poor performance in Game 5 — due in large part to his uncharacteristic foul trouble?
      • What kind of antics, if any, would we see out of Lance Stephenson?
      • With Rashard Lewis back in the starting lineup for the Heat, would he finish over or under 3.5 3-pointers?
      • Which Roy Hibbert would we see, and will he finish with more than 8 pts and 6 boards?
      • Which Paul George would we see? Good Paul George (maybe “minimum” Paul George would be more apt), who shows up really every game, or amazing Paul George who goes off for 30+ (in the Pacers offense, that’s going off) and shows us his superstar potential?
      • Could Miami manage to not get off to a slow start? It feels like the Heat – at least lately – have gotten off to a slow start and allowed the Pacers to get an early lead before Miami battles back.
      • What kind of contribution would we see out of Chris Andersen as he returns from injury?

Alright, we’ll revisit those keys at the conclusion. Here’s how things went down:

It was the David West show early on -- though that certainly wasn't the case for long. Here he is backing down Rashard "Who Goin' Stop Me, Huh?" Lewis in the post. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

It was the David West show early on — though that certainly wasn’t the case for long. Here he is backing down Rashard “Who Goin’ Stop Me, Huh?” Lewis in the post. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

  • Indiana got off to a 9-2 run to start things off, powered by 6 points and 3-3 from the field by David West
  • Just under 6 minutes into the first quarter and the Heat had gone on a 6-0 run. After starting the game 1-8 from the field, Miami had gone 3-4.
  • There were signs already in the first quarter of what was to come for the Pacers: George Hill unsuccessfully attempted to drive at Chris Bosh, LeBron charged to the rim with some flair and laid it in, and Paul George had a contested three. The Pacers offense was back to looking like the Pacers offense: not very efficient, not executing well, and not very successful.
  • Still in the 1st quarter, Chris BIRDMAN BIRDMAN Andersen took to the floor after missing the last two games with a thigh injury and went up hard for a board, drawing a foul from Paul George in the process. Jeff Van Gundy correctly pointed out that George had to get more involved in the game.

    BIRDMAN BIRDMAN Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    BIRDMAN BIRDMAN
    Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

  • Lance Stephenson touched LeBron’s face. Apparently LeBron did something similar at the other end and nothing was called (LeBron quite likely should have had a foul called as part of a four-point play). That said, you don’t touch another man’s face. But man, Lance’s antics are something else. They’re certainly entertaining and they certainly make for great television. And as crazy as he is, the prevailing theme throughout most of the game was that he seemed like the only Pacer giving his all out there.
  • With 3:15 left in the first quarter, Indiana had 13 points — 6 from Stephenson and 6 from West. LeBron had 9 points on 4-6 from the field so far.
  • The Ray Allen-Rashard Lewis connection, when it does happen, is something that brings me so much joy. As DeAndre Yedlin would say, #SeattleLove .
  • C.J. Watson came on for Indiana and helped to prove something we all know; the Indiana Pacers roster cries out for a true, quality point guard. Maybe with a great point guard that team would have enough. George Hill/C.J. Watson is not nearly enough.
  • LeBron had 11 points in 11 minutes. He came ready to rock the joint, and rock the joint he did as moments later he would drive, soar, and toss a one-hand pass to Shane Battier in the corner who would drill a three.
  • At the start of the second quarter, the Heat were up 11 and Norris Cole made his first appearance. Chris Andersen threw one down inside and the Heat were back at it.
  • The Pacers lineup at the start of the 2nd quarter was atrocious. Stephenson was the only starter on the floor and on a good night – which we all grew accustomed to seeing from the Pacers in the regular season – having guys like Watson, Scola, Mahinmi and Sloan on the floor would be serviceable. Against a Miami Heat squad that’s in the zone? Absolutely not.

    So sweet, so seductive. Ray Allen, ladies and gentlemen. Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

    So sweet, so seductive. Ray Allen, ladies and gentlemen. Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

  • Ray Allen nailed one of his patented swisher sweet jumpers and Frank Vogel called a timeout 2 1/2 minutes into the 2nd quarter with the Heat up by 15, 33-18. I’m convinced Ray Allen can play for another five years — that jumper ain’t going anywhere.
  • About 15 minutes into the game, the Heat were out-shooting the Pacers by 26% from the field and had the rebounding advantage by seven boards, 16-9. This is about when the feeling began to creep in that the Heat were on the verge of blowing this game wide open.
  • The Heat were also dominating in the paint, 22 points to the Pacers’ 6 through 14 1/2 minutes.
  • Roy Hibbert update: 0 points and one rebound in 12 minutes played.
  • Lance Stephenson’s relentless play helped him find his way into double figures in the early part of the second quarter, certainly one of the few good signs for Pacers fans.
  • Norris Cole’s flat top game is Jelani Wheeler-esque.
  • Lance Stephenson slapped Norris Cole in the face. One could argue he was making a play for the ball, but he slapped him in the face. Flagrant 1.
  • David West goes 4-4 and at this point it’s growing increasingly apparent (as if it wasn’t already known): all Pacers field goal attempts should come from Paul George, David West or Lance Stephenson. Hibbert? You can grab offensive boards and put-backs.
  • Chris Bosh started hitting nifty layups, and when Chris Bosh is hitting layups to complement his deep shooting game, he’s showing why he’s one of the best forwards in the game, or at least why he can be.

    One of the aforementioned Chris Bosh layups in the second quarter. Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    One of the aforementioned Chris Bosh layups in the second quarter. Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

  • Just under seven minutes left in the first half and Paul George had one point while the Heat held a 26-8 advantage in the paint. LeBron was on the bench but it was no matter; the Heat looked just fine without him. Again, this game felt like it was on the verge of being blown wide open.
  • David West hit his fifth field goal on five attempts, further reinforcing that he needs to be getting offensive touches, not Hibbert.
  • Spoelstra called timeout with 5 1/2 left in the second quarter and the Heat leading 42-24. The Heat had also out-assisted the Pacers 9-4.
  • Coming back from the break the production crew gave us a solid L3rd: Stephenson & West: 9-12 from the field for 21 points. The rest of the Pacers? 1-16. Paul George, that’s when you need to step up.
  • First play out of the timeout Spoelstra called? Dwyane Wade hits a runner and the Pacers looked incredibly deflated.

    Usually when this happens, there is going to be someone open. Problem: as Mark Jackson correctly pointed out on Friday, James is a cross between Magic and Jordan, meaning he can make this pass with ease. Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Usually when this happens, there is going to be someone open. Problem: as Mark Jackson correctly pointed out on Friday, James is a cross between Magic and Jordan, meaning he can make this pass with ease. Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

  • As the second quarter progressed the Heat showed one of their many weapons for blowing this game open: pick-and-rolls using LeBron and either Rashard or Chris Bosh. Deadly combination, as LeBron can either take it to the rack, or toss it back for an open three because Indiana was forced to throw two guys on LeBron.
  • TURNING POINT: Rashard Lewis hits a three and that felt like the dagger. In the Second Quarter. Heat up 26.
  • Chris Andersen tipped in a missed layup by LeBron to give himself 8 points and 8 rebounds. The Pacers? I don’t think they had a pulse. They were all dead except for Lance who was exhausted and David West who was very frustrated. And it was only the second quarter.
  • At the half: Heat led the Pacers 60-34. As I typed at the time, “holy shit.”
  • Paul George’s first field goal of the game? Yeah, it came one minute into the second half. I’m well aware of how much he went off in the second half of Game 5, but that’s bad.
  • Rashard hit another three. He had 10 points. Get at me, bro.

    Dagger. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

    Dagger. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

  • Rashard Lewis hit another corner three. I’m in love. Rashard was 3-5 from 3-point range and had 13 points.
  • A missed Pacers FT and the Heat were up 32 with about 18 minutes to play. Bosh sank two free throws and the lead increased to 34. This was insane, but then again, it also wasn’t.
  • Chris Copeland was on the floor for the Pacers and that, my friends, may be all you need to know about how things were going for Indiana.
  • 4:30 left in the 3rd quarter and I would have LOVED to have seen some heart out of the Pacers, but it just wasn’t going to happen.
  • The Heat increased the lead to 37 and I considered flipping away, but I stuck around a little longer.
  • On to the 4th quarter and with 8:22 left the Heat were up 95-67 and Indiana was still lifeless. The Heat weren’t even trying anymore — and yet they were still wiping the floor with the Pacers.

This is about where I gave up, and you can’t blame me. There was playoff hockey on as well as the Mariners game. Let’s revisit those keys and examine some other final conclusions:

  • How did LeBron do? He may not have “gone off,” by today’s popular standards, but he dominated. In fact, the Heat dominated enough that he didn’t have to “go off.” LeBron finished with 25 points on 8 of 12 from the field and a perfect 9 of 9 from the line, six dimes and four rebounds.

    Lance's shenanigans again touched off a confrontation in this game. Love him or hate him, he gave max effort all series and without him, it certainly would not have been as fun to watch. Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Lance’s shenanigans again touched off a confrontation in this game. Love him or hate him, he gave max effort all series and without him, it certainly would not have been as fun to watch. Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

  • What kind of antics would we see from Lance? I can’t believe I even questioned whether or not we would see antics from Lance. He was touching faces, putting his head into guys and just generally being Lance. That said, one of my prevailing themes was that Lance seemed like one of the only Pacers pouring his heart out on the floor and giving his all. Stephenson’s final line? 11 points on 4-9 from the field and 3 of 6 from 3-point range, four boards and three fouls. But again, it was his intense defensive effort that should certainly be lauded.
  • Rashard Lewis did finish under the 3.5 mark that I set for him, but his 13 points in 25 minutes played a key role for Miami.
  • Which Roy Hibbert would we see? Well, we still saw pouty Roy Hibbert, a man who put up a grand total of one field goal, going 6 of 6 from the free throw stripe to finish with 8 points, four boards and three assists in 32 minutes. Roy Hibbert has become incredibly disappointing. He needs to not be disappointing anymore. Be better.
  • Which Paul George did we see? Not superstar-level Paul George, that’s for sure. George’s final line was far more impressive than what we saw from him in the first 30 minutes of the game as he finished the contest with 29 points on 8-18 from the field and 5-10 from 3-point range, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 41 minutes. But again, the effort – especially early in the game – just was not there. Also very disappointing.

    Paul, where were you out there, man? You can't save everything for the second half in every game. Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Paul, where were you out there, man? You can’t save everything for the second half in every game. Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

  • Would Miami get off to another slow start? Well, as I said at the start of the recap they went down 9-2…and then finished on a 115-83 run, so you can take that as you’d like.
  • What kind of contribution did we see from Chris Andersen in his return? Oh, not much, just 9 points on 4-4 from the field and 10 rebounds. BIRDMAN BIRDMAN.

Final Conclusions:

  • Lance Stephenson may have “come to play,” but that’s the thing with the Heat; they’ve been “coming to play” all postseason. Because they will always come to play in the postseason.
  • Heading in to the half, LeBron told Doris Burke that the Heat had another level left in them. That is why the Heat are so impressive; they’re dominating a team that, during the regular season, all of us were marveling at how great and talented and balanced and sound they were defensively. And yet they still have another level left in them. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, but today? Today the Heat are still the best team in the basketball…until the play the Spurs 😉
  • There was a point in time when people would say/think, “Are they really a ‘Big 3’ though? Isn’t it just LeBron and Wade?” But then when any one of the big three would miss a game, the team could still win, and you knew there was something special. When Wade’s age started to show and had to fight off knee injuries — and at the same time Chris Bosh has amped his game up and improved his jump shot, you’re again reminded that this is certainly a triumvirate and not a duo. That said, it’s LeBron. At the end of the day, Dwyane Wade is an incredibly good player and should be remembered for how great he was in the NBA Finals against the Mavericks before LeBron got to Miami. But LeBron is the greatest basketball player to ever live, and because of that, it’s always going to come back to him.
  • Chris Andersen is a beast. I cannot wait to see him defending Tim Duncan, if that does end up happening. If it’s the Thunder? Ibaka against the Birdman is going to be really fun.
Not a surprise by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good to see the Heat subdued in their celebration of winning the series. It's never been about beating the Pacers for them. It's about getting another ring. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Not a surprise by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good to see the Heat subdued in their celebration of winning the series. It’s never been about beating the Pacers for them. It’s about getting another ring. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

That was Game 6, and now the Miami Heat are headed to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season, the first team to do such since the late 1980’s Boston Celtics. Who will they face? The winner of the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, who play their own Game 6 tonight in OKC. We’ll have more for you on all things NBA in the coming days and weeks.

– Dylan

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About Dylan Jenkins

I'm a proud Seattlite currently living in Queens, NY. Outside of sports, I enjoy crime dramas - specifically police procedurals - as well as a wide range of music, everything from Top 40 to Iron & Wine, Bob Dylan & Rogue Wave. I am a cat person, which is to say I'm a human who enjoys felines. I have a tremendous sweet tooth that isn't very discerning, and I refuse to observe a number of unwritten social rules.
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