(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat can take a stranglehold of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night with Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers on tap from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Heat took a 2-1 series lead with a sensational performance Sunday night in Indianapolis. Miami, led by a playoff franchise-record 70 points in the first half, triumphed 114-96.
"The playoffs are hard. If you're up or down, you have to win four games," LeBron James said after practice on Sunday. "We understand that, so we look forward to the opportunity, having another game where we can win, take a commanding lead. So we look forward to it tomorrow night."
Sunday's game not only shifted the series advantage toward Miami, it ended one streak and continued another.
That victory pushed the Heat to 5-0 on the road in the postseason. That mark is impressive on its own, but all five wins came by double-digit margins.
"We love to just come in and try to take a game from a team on their home floor. We love it," said James. "We love feeling like it's just us by ourselves and against everyone else."
The loss was Indiana's first at home during the postseason, sending the Pacers to 6-1. It also marked the first time the Pacers trailed in any series during the playoffs.
"We saw what Miami looked like with their backs against the wall in coming here, having lost home-court advantage," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Monday. "Now it's our turn to come out and show what we look like with our backs against the wall."
Aside from the Heat's 70-point, first-half outburst, Miami was brilliant in almost all facets of the game on Sunday. The Heat shot 54.5 percent from the field, committed only five turnovers and held the Pacers under 40 percent from the floor.
James paced the Heat with 22 points, followed by 18 from Dwyane Wade and an unexpected 17 from Udonis Haslem. He shot 8-for-9 from the field and had seven rebounds.
Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers both scored in double figures.
The Pacers got a big effort from their big men in Game 3. Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds, while David West scored 21 points and pulled down 10 boards.
George Hill netted 19, but it was an off night for All-Star and Most Improved Player, Paul George. He managed 13 points on 3-for-10 shooting, but did hand out eight assists.
"He didn't have a great shooting night and they were more dialed in to making him the focal point of their defensive plan. So I think you have to credit their defense," Vogel said of the Heat's plan. "Thirteen points and eight assists is about 30 points worth of production, similar to what LeBron put up, 22 points and three assists. So I thought it was a pretty even battle."
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - This time it was LeBron James on the sideline in the deciding moments as the Indiana Pacers escaped Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals with a 99-92 victory over the Miami Heat.
James fouled out for just second time in his playoff career after totaling 24 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Heat, who had won 10 straight games on the road that included a lopsided Game 3 triumph at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Roy Hibbert, benched late in overtime in a series-opening loss, was the difference-maker Tuesday as the Pacers evened the series, finishing with 23 points and 12 rebounds and scoring twice off offensive boards down the stretch in the tight game.
Lance Stephenson checked in with 20 points, George Hill added 19 and David West followed with 14 with 12 rebounds for an Indiana club that connected on 50 percent of its shots.
Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade scored 20 and 16 points, respectively, for Miami, which only committed six turnovers but shot a pedestrian 39 percent from the floor.