The start of Game 6 was eerily similar to that of Game 5, but when the second half rolled around, Game 6 turned out to be the exact opposite.
Indiana missed some easy shots early, and while it felt as if the Pacers should have been up by at least six at halftime, the Heat found themselves up by one with the score of 40-39. David West struggled in the first half (he had a respiratory infection and was reportedly playing with a 103 degree fever), going 0-7 from the field. After Paul George's facial on Chris Bosh, the Pacers missed three big dunk attempts.
Miami was struggling offensively as well. The Heat shot 37% from the field in the first half (7-9 from three), and Dwyane Wade and Bosh were virtually no-shows.
In game 5, LeBron James dominated the third quarter and opened up a big lead over the Pacers. On Saturday night, it was Paul George and the Pacers' turn. Hibbert took advantage of the Birdman's absence down low and abused the Heat. Miami turned the ball over six times and missed easy layups. LeBron James's obvious frustration even prompted TNT announcer Reggie Miller to refer to the Heat as "The Miami Cavaliers", referencing James's frustration with his former team.
Meanwhile, everything was going to Pacers' way that third quarter. They outscored the Heat 29-15, and in the fourth all they had to do was close it out. Miami, predictably, went on a run, with Mike Miller knocking down back-to-back threes and a LeBron James driving and cutting the lead down to 4.
The Pacers responded in a big way. West hit a couple of jump shots and made a nice move to finish in the paint. Paul George knocked down a couple big threes. Ultimately, it was about executing in the clutch. Indiana, even though they looked shaky at times, moved the ball well and got some easy shots to put the game away. Miami missed way too many easy shots, and the Heat will have a hard time winning if Wade and Bosh do not show up.
5 Keys for Game 7:
Wade and Bosh have to contribute. If LeBron has to shoulder all the offensive load, there is a good chance he gets frustrated as he did tonight.
The Pacers have to keep looking in to Hibbert. His jump hook was falling today and was dominant without Andersen defending.
Points in the paint and rebounds. The Pacers dominated both tonight.
The Pacers have to take the crowd out of the game early. The Heat are too good when the crowd gets behind them.
If LeBron James has one of his "there's no way in hell I'm letting us lose this game" games (Game 6 of 2012 ECF), the Heat gets the W. He's that good.
I'm picking Indiana in Game 7. They've come too far to lose this game. They'll be hungry, and we'll see if it's enough to take down the champs.