Led by a resurgent Chris Bosh and the always-brilliant LeBron James, the Miami Heat surged to a Game 4 victory, sending Indiana to the brink of elimination.
5 things to know
Welcome back, Chris Bosh
It was easy to begin questioning Chris Bosh through three games. He'd scored a total of 27 points on 12-33 shooting and had been thoroughly outplayed by Roy Hibbert as the Heat looked for the right mix up front. In Game 3, Bosh was bad enough that Rashard Lewis got burn in his place.
But Game 4 reminded us why Bosh is so valuable to the Heat, as he poured in 17 in the first half and 25 overall, hitting seven of his 12 shots. That's all the help LeBron needed, and Miami took a 3-1 series lead because of it. Bosh had been 2-12 on three-pointers in the series until Monday; he hit 3-5 in Game 4. A big man who can hit threes seems to be all you need to break Indiana's defense these days, and Miami's offense knocked the Pacers out in Game 4.
Should Miami win one of the next three games and advance, the Heat will need this version of Bosh in order to get that third straight title. -Tom Ziller
A one-sided fight
For reasons known only to Lance Stephenson, the excitable swingman decided to trash talk LeBron James in a Game 3 loss. Compounding Lance’s ill-conceived bravado, he played it up during the off day, saying that Bron showed "weakness" in engaging him.
Gee, wonder how this was going to play out. LeBron was at his best, destroying the Pacers with with a 32-10-5 line in just 36 minutes. James metaphorically stepped on Stephenson’s larynx with a combination of rim-shattering dunks and are-you-serious threes. Lance was at his worst, scoring just one point through the first three foul-plagued quarters while the Heat built an insurmountable lead.
This was a weird sidebar in a series that has oddly lacked for drama, considering the eventful games the teams had played the previous two seasons. But it neatly encapsulated the 2013-14 season. The Pacers talked a big game. The Heat blew them off and then blew them out when it counted.-Paul Flannery
Where it all went wrong
If the Indiana Pacers had it their way, modern technology would grant them the ability to transport back to a happier time: the start of the fourth quarter in Game 2. That's when Lance Stephenson was living life to the fullest, completing kamikaze drives to the rim and draining pull-up three-pointers. It's when Indiana's defense looked capable of putting the Heat's high-powered offense in knots. It was before Paul George sustained a concussion. It was, if we're being completely honest, the last time it seemed like the Pacers had a chance in this series.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade came alive in that fourth quarter to give Miami the victory, and the Pacers have been reeling ever since. Frank Vogel's team had to find a way to win a game in Miami before the series headed back to Indiana in Game 5, but they weren't up for it it. Ray Allen just hit too many three-pointers in the second half of Game 3. Chris Bosh just drained too many open jump shots throughout Game 4. The promise of what could have been hangs over the Pacers like a brooding cloud, and the reality of their current situation is no more sunny.
After a season spent publicly stating a desire to get a potential Game 7 against Miami on their home floor, the Pacers are now set to be eliminated in five games if they don't come ready to play on Wednesday. It isn't looking good. Stephenson has lost his magic, Roy Hibbert just finished another playoff game with zero points and the Pacers appear to have no answer for all of the Heat's weapons. Indiana talked a good game, they just haven't been able to back it up. With that time machine, it feels like the Pacers are going to have a long offseason ahead of them thinking about where it all went wrong. -Ricky O'Donnell
The Roy Hibbert rollercoaster
First Roy Hibbert was broken. Then he was fixed. Then broken. Then fixed again. And now he's broken. Again.
The cycle has repeated itself so many times, it doesn't seem to matter who the opponent is. Whether it's Pero Antic or Chris Bosh hitting three-pointers in the face of the 7-footer, the pose on the bench is always the same at the end of the game. Hibbert sits, with his towel over his legs and his head in his hands, watching the game from the bench.
The worst thing about his decline is the fact that the Pacers, despite losing one of their best players for long stretches of time in the most crucial point of the season, are still battling for a place in the NBA Finals. Teams with championship aspirations have come and gone, but the Pacers, despite all the Twitter hate and offensive stagnation, have remained. Hibbert has gone scoreless in four games this postseason, but Indiana has kept chugging along and somehow made it all the way to the last week of May.
For the first half of the season, the Pacers were a speeding train, running down the tracks without respect to anyone else. Now, the train is broken. The rods have separated and the boiler -- that would be Hibbert -- has lost all its water. Indiana's still a heavy piece of machinery, but they've managed to fly down the line without being able to control their own destiny.
Against the Heat, though, it seems as though they are finally about to derail, with the Pacers' big man sending chunks of hot metal and coal into the Everglades on his way out of town. -Dane Carbaugh
Scenes of Pacer indifference
After losing on the road in Game 7 last year, the Indiana Pacers vowed to fight for home court advantage over the Miami Heat this year. They got it! Then they sunk into ennui, a malaise so deep merely watching them makes me get all existential.
Lance Stephenson sways back and forth completely unready for a ball to be passed his way, then shrugs to the heavens when the ball is not passed his way:
Stephenson said he was in LeBron's head, and perhaps he was in the same way the NBA players got their talents jacked in Space Jam. Dude looks like he's about to be given a Fatality in Mortal Kombat, then acts indignant he didn't get a look.
Roy Hibbert wishes for escape.
You didn't need to read Dane to understand Hibbert's evening. You can look at the picture and say "oh, he had zero points on 0-for-4 shooting, five rebounds, and four fouls." That's what his face says.
Luis Scola and Paul George contemplate a fly-ass spread.
Man, I'd struggle to concentrate if I had quality buffet-style free food waiting for me too. George and Scola were probably Indiana's two best players in Game 4, so let's not rule out strong play fueled by hunger. -Rodger Sherman
San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference Finals, Game 4San Antonio leads 2-19:00 p.m. ET | TNT Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Okla.