The Miami Heat will have home-court advantage once again after falling to the Indiana Pacers in Game 4. What will now be a de facto three-game series is set to begin on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
As with any game featuring the reigning MVP, all eyes will be on LeBron James, who will look to lead his hungry squad to a commanding 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pacers did their job and made things difficult for the defending champs, who shot just 39 percent from the field in Game 4.
At home, however, it could be a different story for Miami. The Heat went 37-4 at home during the regular season and averaged seven more points per game than they did on the road (106.4 vs. 99.4 ppg). They remained relatively stable on the defensive end, as well.
Game Info: Thursday, May 30, 8:30 p.m. ET | National television: TNT | Odds according to OddsShark: Miami -7.5
Here are three questions that will go a long way towards determining what happens in Game 5:
1. Did the Pacers awaken a sleeping giant?
In Game 4, defense was the name of the game for the Pacers, who found ways to slow down the world's best player. Team defense and physical play didn't necessarily stop LeBron, but it slowed him down just enough. That let the Pacers take advantage of their superior size and force Miami out of the paint to take more contested jumpers.
That could serve as either a blueprint for success or, worse for the Pacers, cause James to turn his game up another notch. It's hard to argue that the Pacers could improve much after holding him to just 1-of-6 shooting in the post. He finished Game 4 with 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting, but his fourth-quarter performance before he fouled out suggested that he had a short memory.
In the final frame, he scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field. He picked things up on the other end of the floor as well, with one block and one steal. If he can build on that momentum early on in Game 5, it could be a long night for Indy.
2. Will Roy Hibbert repeat his dominant performance?
The Pacers' big man is the ideal counter to what the Heat do well. Where Miami has a speed advantage and is outstanding in transition, the Pacers slow the game down and can play through their man in the middle.
That's their identity, and their trust in Roy Hibbert resulted in an outstanding performance from the former Georgetown star. He totaled 23 points and 12 rebounds on Tuesday night.
3. Can both teams tune out the officials?
The officiating was the story of Game 4, and that's a bad sign considering how good a series this has been. The fact that James, a player notoriously good at staying out of foul trouble, collected four personal fouls in the fourth quarter alone says a lot about the inconsistency in that area.
Joey Crawford was unusually bad, even for him, and cost fans a finish for the ages. But the two teams that had to suffer the effects of his blatantly bad game were the Heat and the Pacers. Will there be any more signature moments ruined by the boys in grey?
Let's hope not.