Heat | First-half domination

Miami Heat takes over closeout game early, never lets up on Indiana Pacers

 

dneal@MiamiHerald.com

A few LeBron James isolations on Lance Stephenson worked only for a turnover and a Paul George rejection of Dwyane Wade. The Heat trailed the Pacers 9-2 in the first 4 minutes 38 seconds. The rowdy AmericanAirlines Arena crowd grumbled tensely as if hoping for a rerun of Game 3, when the Heat turned a 19-4 start into a 12-point rout.

The crowd didn’t get a rerun. They saw a Premium Edition version with extras, multiple shots and beautiful cuts.

The Heat went conflagration. They burned down the NBA’s best field-goal percentage defense like a pile of dry, fallen Hoosier October leaves and realistically ended Game 6 by halftime. After a 60-34 Heat halftime lead, the second half counted as 24 minutes of further punishment by a Heat team whose execution seemed sharpened by deep annoyance with the visitors.

That’s a 58-25 run over the last 19:22 of the half for the Heat, a slight fall-off from the 22-4 run with which the Heat closed the first quarter.

Opponents shot only 43.0 percent from the field against Indiana in the regular season. The Heat shot nearly that (41.7 percent) from three-point range in the first half. Rashard Lewis, Chris Bosh, Wade, Ray Allen and Shane Battier all drilled three-pointers as the scoreboard started to look like the running account of Secretariat in the Belmont.

“They executed the heck out of it offensively with their spread-five offense with five three-point shooters out there,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said.

Overall from the field, the Heat burned the nets at 59.5 percent, 70.6 percent after a 1-for-8 start, in the first half.

Let’s break that down further, as the Heat broke down the Pacers defense with sharp ball movement that created open layups and dunks and allowed the Heat to outscore the Pacers 32-12 in the paint. The second quarter had been going just long enough to wonder if the break between the first and second quarters might cool the Heat and give the Pacers time to regroup defensively.

Then, Allen found center Chris Andersen for a dunk, and the Heat had doubled up the Pacers, 26-13.

When the Heat did miss, six offensive rebounds turned into 12 second-chance points. Andersen scored four points on tip-ins. James put back his own fast-break layup miss.

Speaking of the Heat fast break, with those shooting percentages and the Heat’s lineup of 747 fliers, you’d expect an extended stream of picturesque racehorse basketball highlights.

Though the Heat smothered the Pacers to the tune of 37.1 percent from the field, that failed to lead to stampeding, dunk-finished fast breaks. The fast-break points count of the first half (4-1 in favor of the Heat) appeared to come from the John Wooden Era — John Wooden as a player at Martinsville (Ind.) High.

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