The Heat Is On

Tyler Alexander, Sports Editor

The American Airlines Arena exploded with the roar of DWYANE WADEEEEE early and often Monday night. A sound the Miami faithful had yet to hear for quite some time. Dwyane Wade had his fingerprints all over the game in the first half and seemed to finally find his game on the offensive end.
“The first play of the game, I called a play for [Wade]. Even though he didn’t shoot the ball, he got a good touch in the paint. I called a couple sets for him early in the game just to get a feel for him,” Lebron James said.
Despite finally getting D-Wade involved, Miami’s offense sputtered, only mustering up 19 points in the first quarter. Regardless, the heat was turned up on the defensive end. In the first quarter alone, Miami forced nine Indiana turnovers, but for seemingly the first time in the Big Three era, couldn’t capitalize in transition. Nevertheless, the Heat would enter the second quarter down by two.
Indiana played tough in the beginning, but putting LeBron James on Paul George proved to be a huge lift for Miami on the defensive end. Along with that switch, the Heat finally looked like the Heat again, attacking the paint, and getting the 7’2” skyscraper Roy Hibbert in early foul trouble. These great adjustments made my Erik Spoelstra sparked the run Miami needed, going on an 11-2 run midway through the second quarter. All in all, Miami outscored Indiana by 17 in the second quarter, sending the Heat into halftime with a comfortable 15 point lead.
From there on it was Miami’s game to win. They outscored Indiana in each quarter, stretching their lead out to 28 points at one point in fourth quarter.
Miami made the adjustments necessary to win the critical game 7 including, outrebounding the Pacers, and getting points in the paint. The most telling stats however, are turnovers. The Heat forced 21 turnovers in all, showing a flash of the tenacious defense that they’ve prided themselves on the entire season.
While LeBron James scored 32 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and 4 assists, it was a team effort overall. D-Wade pitched in 21 points, his first 20 point game since game 2 against Milwaukee, Ray Allen scored 10 points, and Chris Bosh contributed 9 points.
Shaquille O’neal said before the game, “We need to see which LeBron will show up. The Magic Johnson, or the Michael Jordan.”
LeBron showed highlight passes reminiscent of the Showtime Lakers, with crisp passes to get his teammates involved. However, when the game needed to be taken over, LeBron was dominant. Whether it’s “Resorting back to my Cleveland days” in game 5, or scoring 45-15-15 in game seven against Boston, LeBron seems to have flashes of being Jordaness when his team needs him most.
It’ll take a stellar performance by LeBron in the Finals to beat the Spurs. The real question for Miami is which D-Wade and which Chris Bosh will show up. Game 1 is Thursday at American Airlines Arena.