The Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers, 102-90, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals to move just one win away from a fourth straight NBA Finals. The Heat led by as many as 23 points and cruised to the victory, but if you hear Paul George tell it, it was the Pacers who played the better game.
In George's eyes, there was one reason why the Heat took a commanding 3-1 series lead, via Candace Buckner of The Indy Star:
"Looking at the stat sheet, we outplayed them," George said. "You got to give them credit. They won this game at the free throw line. They really just were able to get to the line more than we were, but I thought we outplayed them tonight."
George went even further, essentially calling out the officials for "favoring" Miami:
"I mean, you can't tell me we don't attack the basket as much as they attack the basket," George said. "You can't tell me we're not aggressive. Maybe we're too aggressive. But I feel like we're just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim. Maybe this was just home cooking."
The Heat shot 34 free throws during the game, and made 30 of those attempts. Meanwhile, the Pacers went just 11-of-17 from the line. Indiana was whistled for 27 fouls, and Lance Stephenson was taken out of his rhythm early due to foul trouble.
The 2014 Pacers
The 2014 Pacers
George's frustration is easy to understand, and there may have been some shreds of truth to his comments. The Pacers did attack the basket in Game 4, with nearly 35 percent of their shots coming at the rim and nearly 50 percent in the paint, according to NBA.com's stats page. The Heat took fewer shots at the rim and the paint, though that's due in part to the fouls that were called.
The problem with George's comments, is that it's hard to craft an argument that says Indiana outplayed Miami. The Heat shot 51 percent through three quarters and only fell below the Pacers' shooting mark by the end of the game thanks to garbage time. Miami also took good care of the ball, turning it over just seven times compared to 14 turnovers for Indiana. George himself had five of those turnovers. The Heat consistently took advantage of the Pacers' sloppy play, scoring 20 points off turnovers.
But despite those facts, Indiana's focus was on the officiating. George wasn't the only Pacer to throw some shade toward the refs:
"We've got to figure out a way to get shots that we want," forward David West said. "We've got to do a better job of finishing, adjusting to the new rules and being able to get to the free throw line a little bit more than we did. We just have to play a better game."
West mentions "new rules" for the playoffs, which apparently were created to favor Miami? When pressed, West wouldn't divulge any specifics:
"I don't know myself. I'm going to have to get versed on them," West said. "I thought we were as aggressive as we've been. We talk about the fight to get two feet within the paint, which I thought we did a good job of that. Just didn't get the breaks we needed to get over the hump."
The Pacers can talk and talk and make any excuse they want, but the simple fact is that they must do a better job of executing on both ends of the floor. Turnovers must be limited and the defense needs to be better. That may be easier said than done, but it's about time Indiana actually walks the walk. They've done enough talking.