Time for the Heat to get hands and feet dirty, too.
Different Heat players have risen to the challenge in each game. The problem is, then they seem to sink without a trace. Udonis Haslem, instrumental to the Game 5 victory with his jumpers and fronting defense on Hibbert, missed two shots, had two rebounds and accumulated four fouls in 16 minutes.
Chris “Birdman” Andersen is still perfect from the floor but did not play because of his suspension for a flagrant foul in Game 5. Mario Chalmers wound up with zero assists.
Anytime Joel Anthony gets significant minutes it means Spoelstra is searching. Spoelstra also inserted Mike Miller when the Heat trailed by 13 entering the fourth quarter, and Miller swished two three-pointers. Perhaps it’s time to try Rashard Lewis, James Jones and Juwan Howard to find a rotation that clicks.
As for Miami’s reliable second unit, Shane Battier and Ray Allen are ghosts of their former selves, in need of a slump-busting seance. Allen’s once silky shots went bonk 75 percent of the time. Battier’s cameo lasted 4:26.
The third quarter, which the Heat dominated 30-13 Thursday, was a reversal of fortune. Miami fell behind by 16 not only because of inaccuracy but also slow-motion reaction when the Pacers pushed the tempo.
“FLOP-per!” Indiana fans cried when James acted as if he had been socked by Roberto Duran rather than nudged by Paul George.
Wade missed a reverse layup that’s usually his bread-and-butter shot. Hibbert drove by Anthony for a dunk and elevated over him for an easy-as-pie layin.
“This is when you rebuild yourself and your brotherhood gets strengthened through adversity,” Spoelstra said. “Game 7s are a treasure in pro sports. Game 7s are what you remember 20 years from now.”
This Game 7 would be the perfect time for a reunion of the Big 3.
“They’re struggling,” James said of Wade and Bosh. “We’ll figure it out. And me as the leader, I’ll have to help them figure it out.”