Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Get the feeling that the two pro hoops teams in the great city of Los Angeles aren't the only ones feelin' a little bit blue today?
The Miami Heat has been in an uncharacteristic funk for the better part of the past 72 hours but at least Erik Spoelstra's club can do something about its mood with the all-important - and by now much-ballyhooed - Game 4 bash in Indiana this afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET) on ABC.
For the Clippers and the Lakers, it's pretty much too late.
No doubt the Staples Center crowd was left in utter shock on Saturday afternoon when the 5-point underdog Clippers blew a 40-16 lead en route to that 96-86 setback to mighty San Antonio in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series but they were out-and-out numbed by last night's 103-100 Lakers loss to 2-point fav Oklahoma City - the Lakers were holding the Thunder at arm's length for the whole game but give TNT analysts Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller credit because both chaps said more than once that LAL should have had a bigger lead late and sure enough Okie City's "Batman" and "Robin" combo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook finished strong while scoring 31 and 37 points, respectively.
Word to the Lakers:
You could have come up with a better fourth-quarter offense than simply have Kobe Bryant - who wore down late here - go one-on-one against any/all comers. Geez, no wonder so many Lakers fans have turned on first-year head coach Mike Brown ... someone bring out old video of the triangle offense already!
The Lakers now have blown two games in this series while getting down three games-to-one - remember blowing that seven-point lead with less than two minutes to play in Game 2 in Oklahoma City? - and normally even good teams cannot afford to lose one such toughie in a best-of-seven set and here the Lakers have lost two of'em.
Get the fishing poles ready!
Today at 3:30 p.m. ET it's ... MIAMI at INDIANA - Pacers lead series 2-1
Promise not to talk about the Dwyane Wade sideline spat with the aforementioned Spolstra; Promise not to mention a thing about the sore left (non-shooting) wrist of Heat G Mario Chalmers who scored 25 points on 10-of-15 FG attempts in Game 3 but who needed lots of ice to feel better two days after that tilt;
And we cross our hearts that we won't make a fuss about the fact the Heat's looked completely lost since F Chris Bosh went down with a lower abdomen injury in the opening game of this best-of-seven series.
Still, here's the Heat with its seemingly multitude of problems having to put even more of the burden on MVP LeBron James (22 points in the ugly 94-75 loss last Thursday night) who probably needs to go for 35-or-so points here in Game 4 just for Miami to survive) and knowing that right now the Pacers' whole is a whole lot better than the sum of its parts.
Just consider that in the Game 3 win the other night there were four of the five starters scoring between 14 and 20 points plus remember that big man Roy Hibbert (19 points) hauled down an amazing 18 rebounds and he's playing with some major attitude these days and that's something Pacers' head coach Frank Vogel has been preaching for a while.
If the Pacers are gonna get a three games-to-one stranglehold on this series here today than Hibbert (four fouls in Game 3) must steer clear of foul woes and be active on defense when James/Wade crash the lane plus Indy must make its free throws count again after netting 20-of-23 charity stripe tosses in Game 3. The magic number here - says us - is we'd like to see the starters get more than 15 FT attempts and it's imperative that F Danny Granger (just 6-of-15 from the floor in Game 3 and 1-of-10 FG shooting in Game 1) must get more aggressive on offense and stop worrying about sparring every other minute with James.
Okay, Heat ... so what's it gonna be here?
Here's how the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Semifinal Series has gone so far (note all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-13||MIAMI||- 8.5||Indiana||MIAMI 95-86|
|5-15||MIAMI||- 6.5||Indiana||Indiana 78-75|
|5-17||Miami||- 2.5||INDIANA||INDIANA 94-75|
WESTERN CONFERENCE -
Tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET, it's ... SAN ANTONIO at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - Spurs lead series 3-0
No doubt the $64,000 question coming into this clash is whether or not the Clippers will have anything left in their emotional/physical tanks following that matinee meltdown yesterday but we'll go "out on a limb" and say that if the Clips don't score more than 6 fast-break points here (see Game 3) than they can expect to be snuffed out by double digits once again.
San Antonio's won the first three games of this set by 16, 17 and 10 points - see accompanying chart below - and it's not only Tim Duncan (19 points and 13 boards in Game 3) and PG Tony Parker (23 points and 10 assists yesterday) doing the damage but that bench we've been busy praising the past couple of weeks was surgical in its approach on Saturday afternoon with a grand total of 28 points to go along with 10 assists and 10 rebs too.
P.S., this is the last time we want to hear about all the Chris Paul injuries: His shoddy 5-of-17 FG stat line on Saturday really helped to sink his own Clippers club!
Here's how the Spurs-Clippers Western Conference Semifinal Series has gone so far (note all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-15||SAN ANTONIO||- 11.5||LA Clippers||SAN ANTONIO 108-92|
|5-17||SAN ANTONIO||- 10.5||LA Clippers||SAN ANTONIO 105-88|
|5-19||San Antonio||- 5||LA CLIPPERS||San Antonio 96-86|
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