The Miami Heat are no longer looking ahead to the NBA Finals, as they now face the very real possibility that they might be heading home for the summer after the second round of the Playoffs. The defending Eastern Conference Champions were held to shooting just 37.2% (29-78) from the floor at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Thursday night as they dropped game three of their match-up against the Indiana Pacers 94-75 and now trail there opponents 2-1 in the series. The Heat now has to win game four on Sunday in Indiana to avoid returning to Miami down 3-1 in the series.
Former Spurs guard George Hill led the way for the Pacers with 20 points while Indiana center Roy Hibbert showed the visitors why he made his first NBA All-Star squad in March as he racked up a double-double putting 19 points on the scoreboard while grabbing 18 rebounds off the backboard. Mario Chalmers knocked down a game high 25 points while LeBron James did not look all that valuable as he added 22 points in the loss. The only other player for the Heat in double-digits was center Joel Anthony who had 10 points for the night while Dwyane Wade could only muster 5 points in 37 minutes of action.
The NBA Eastern Conference Finals could look quite differently than how most NBA observers envisioned it just before the Post Season began. The Chicago Bulls ended the regular campaign with the best record in the East, however they quickly unraveled once they lost All-Star guard Derrick Rose to a torn ACL in the first game of their opening round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. They would end their Playoff run after just six games and the Heat could find themselves exiting the Post Season after this round after losing power forward Chris Bosh to a strained abdominal muscle in the first game of their current match-up.
Indiana started out dominating in the early moments of the opening period, but Miami would come back strong and take control of the action. Anthony slammed the ball home with 1:17 left in the first and the Heat held a 26-17 advantage at the end of the quarter. The Pacers would get back into the contest late in the second and as the game reached the half the score was knotted up at 43-43.
After exchanging the lead between them at the start of the third, the home team would pull away from their opponents as they outscored them 26-12 during the period. Darren Collison split a pair at the line with seven seconds on the clock and Indiana would be on top 69-55 at the end of the quarter. Miami was never a threat in the final period as the Pacers won the contest handily.
The two teams will be back on the hardwood this Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with Indiana holding a 2-1 lead in the match-up.