And what a welcome it was.
LeBron James rescued the Heat in overtime as his running layup attempt at the buzzer sent the crowd, a moment removed from gasping and hand-wringing, into a jubilant celebration. James took the in-bound pass from Shane Battier on the left elbow with 2.2 seconds remaining, and as Paul George overplayed to his right, James attacked left. With Indiana’s defense spread thin to cover the shooters, James found a clear path the basket. His layup kissed off the glass as time expired, giving him only his second postseason game-winning field goal.
“I knew I had time,” James said after the game. “Coach drew up a good play.”
James’ angle to the basket lacked any interior defense from Indiana, as 7’2” center Roy Hibbert sat on the bench. Sam Young, a small forward, had been substituted to cover Chris Bosh, and with the Heat’s sharpshooting big spread out wide, no one was inside to block James’ attempt. Had Hibbert been in there, Bosh would have more than likely been stationed even farther away from the basket, drawing the slow-footed center from the middle.
“That’s the dilemma they present when they have Chris Bosh on the floor,” Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said in his postgame press conference. “We went to a switching lineup.” When asked if he would sit Roy Hibbert in a similar situation going forward, Vogel said: “I would say we’ll probably have [Hibbert] in next time.”
- Frank Vogel Costs Indiana Pacers Win In Game 1 (themercyrule3.wordpress.com)
The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers have to wait one more day before they tip off their Eastern Conference Finals best-of-seven series. Pundits feel the Pacers stand the greatest chance of dethroning the defending champion Heat, but most of them are still picking Miami to win. Fresh off a physically grueling series with the Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers promise a similar challenge–one that will force the Miami Heat to stick to their identity (to use an Erik Spolestra term) and grind out their wins.
The Season Series
Indiana took two of the three match-ups this season, that after holding a 1-2 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season. The Pacers dominated the glass and held everyone on the Heat not named James, Wade or Bosh to just 11 points en route to the win in the first match-up, a 87-77 win in Indiana in January. The second game was also a Pacer win at home, as Indiana beat Miami 102-89 on February 1st. It would be the last Heat loss for the next 27 games, as Miami ripped off the second-longest winning streak in league history after the game. The Heat would exact a modicum of revenge with a dominant 105-91 win in Miami in March.
While the Pacers can point to those earlier wins as evidence they can beat the Heat, those games were played without a major Miami rotational piece in Chris Andersen. Indiana scored 93.3 points per game and grabbed 40.7 rebounds per game in the three games against Miami, while shooting 44% from the field and 39% from the three-point arc. The Pacers turned the ball over 14.7 times per game in the three contests. The Heat scored 90.3 points per game and grabbed 29.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 48% from the field and 43% from the three-point arc. Miami turned the ball over 12.3 times in the three game set against Indiana.
During this, the seventh week of the Season of Woe, the Marlins exercised their right to be the worst team in the Majors yet again. A recent seven-game losing streak, snapped last Sunday with a rare win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, earned the Fish a share of the league’s worst record with the Houston Astros. Yet, even in the win, a player may have lost. Reliever Steve Cishek, one of the few bright spots last season, may have lost his hold on the Closer role, as he was pulled during the final inning of Sunday’s win for lefty Mike Dunn. Dunn closed the game, but not before walking the bases-loaded and nearly blowing the game himself.
Cishek is 1-4 with a 4.91 ERA so far this season. He’s allowed 11 runs to score during his 18.1 innings pitched, and has registered a Major-League low five saves as the “Closer”. Dunn has been one of the better arms out of the ‘pen for the Marlins this season, surrendering only four runs during his team-high 23 appearances. He’s 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA as the, inexplicably, only lefty in the bullpen. The Marlins have promoted lefty Duane Below from Triple-A New Orleans. Below takes Jeep Enthusiast Jon Rauch’s spot on the roster, as the team parted ways with the tall righty last Friday night.
But while the Season of Woe continues to claim new victims, one of the earlier victims might be returning soon, thanks to an increasingly popular medical procedure. Giancarlo Stanton reportedly received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help heal his right hamstring strain. The procedure has been used by former Marlin Cody Ross, as well as several other athletes across the spectrum of sports.
“It promotes recovery a little quicker, especially if there is a lot of inflammation in that area,” Stanton said of the procedure.
New Era, the cap company responsible for all the on-field headgear of the MLB and its minor league affiliates, revealed this year’s designs for its annual Memorial Day Stars & Stripes program. Teams around the league will be sporting camouflage caps this season, a departure from the traditional Red, White and Blue design. All designs are for sale right now at MLB.com or neweracap.com.
Don’t miss my recap of the Week, Statistical Shenanigans, my predication and the Tweet Sweep! Please please please read more here!
- Miami Marlins Monday (dlfwriting.com)
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- Miami Marlins Monday Week 5: Sadsacks and Such (dlfwriting.com)
- Miami Marlins Monday: More Meddling, Not, Alas, From a Galaxy Far, Far Away. (dlfwriting.com)