For the second time in three games, the Miami Heat blew a slim fourth-quarter lead against the Indiana Pacers Tuesday, and instead of coming home with a chance to clinch the series, Miami will host Game 5 Thursday night with a chance to retake the series lead.
"We missed an opportunity to go up 3-1," Heat center Chris Bosh said Wednesday. "But we did get home-court back. We did our job. We have to come out and play with a lot of passion."
Miami regained home-court advantage with a blowout win Sunday night in which they scored at will against the Pacers. Indiana made the necessary defensive adjustments for Game 4, and now the Heat will have to return serve with adjustments of their own.
The Pacers effectively kept the Heat out of the paint, forcing lower-percentage mid-range shots. That, combined with a strong night on the glass (Indiana grabbed 49 rebounds compared to Miami's 30) allowed them to dictate the pace of the game and keep Miami on the ropes.
"Our guys have respect for the other team in that locker room," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "We know nothing is earned easy in this series. We've got to work for it. Being home doesn't guarantee anything."
What will it take for Miami to come out on top Thursday? The re-emergence of Dwyane Wade would help. He shot just 5 of 15 in Game 4, and has not topped 20 points in each of the past 10 games – the longest such streak of his career.
Wade has also taken just 16 trips to the free throw line the entire series, emblematic of the team's tendency to settle for outside shots when they should be attacking the paint and drawing fouls.
Meanwhile, the Heat have to figure out a way to slow down Pacers center Roy Hibbert. At 7'2", he towers over defenders and has the bulk to back his way to the basket in the post. He is averaging 12 rebounds a game (while Bosh has 13 rebounds the entire series). He will get his points, but what is more important is that Miami boxes him out on the defensive glass to minimize Indiana's second-chance points.
Still, the Heat sound positive, needing to win two of the next three games to advance to the NBA Finals. If they do they would face the San Antonio Spurs, who will be well rested after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals.
"We don't need confidence to go into any game," reigning MVP LeBron James said. "We're a confident bunch. We're excited to get the opportunity to go back to our home and play Game 5."
Game 5 tips off at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, with coverage on TNT.
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