Win again, and he’ll notice all that, and appreciate it, and trust it to be so going forward, Miami getting him the toys Cleveland never did. But lose . . . well, lose and that crushing feeling falls somewhere in the emotional neighborhoods between regret and mistrust.
Miami is more talented than Indiana. This is not up for debate. Indiana actually played well in Game 3, but was blown out because Indiana’s best can’t match Miami’s best. Heck, even that Game 4 loss is a testament to how much more talented Miami is because a team shooting under 40 percent and being outrebounded by 20 shouldn’t be close, never mind leading, late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game on the road.
But Indiana is closing that talent gap with free throws, rebounds and sheer size — and because that size has been the single most consistent thing in this series, correcting bad shooting by giving it another try on the same possession. Roy Hibbert is not a good offensive player. This is what he’s averaged per game the last four seasons: 11.7 points, 12.7 points, 12.8 points, 11.9 points. He has done this while shooting less than 50 percent every single season. But he has scored 19, 29, 20 and 23 in these four games while making more than he misses.
You want to guess how often he’s scored like that over four straight games in his entire five-year career? One other time. Ever. In more than 400 games. And he’s doing it now against one of the best defenses in the league, at the most important time? Indiana is tilting the game’s math in its favor, closing the talent gap, because its big people are playing near the rim successfully and efficiently in a way that Wade is not. Wade might want to correct that, and soon, if he wants his friend to keep helping him as he ages.
Pretty huge game at home tonight, obviously. You don’t want to play a game for your life in Indiana, no matter how good/better you are. This entire journey through the clouds toward tonight has been fun and crazy, more launch than climb, and this particular catapult is such that it defies the standard definition of gravity and sends us hurtling toward the secondary definition — gravitas. Consequences? They are grave. Grave, as in dire; grave, as in where things are buried.
You can see all that clearly while floating all the way up here like an astronaut, enjoying the hell out of the view down there while hoping and praying that isn’t a crack starting to form in your helmet’s mask.