The Eastern Conference finals has moved to the American Airlines Arena with the Miami Heat leading the series 3-2 against the Indiana Pacers. Indiana managed to stay alive in the series by winning the fifth game, but the defending champions are still leading and need just one win in the remaining two games.
Four-time MVP LeBron James had a disastrous outing as he was forced to sit out because of foul trouble in most the game and only managed to score seven points and two rebounds during his 24 minutes on the court.
The Pacers made full use of James' absence to fight their way back in the series. Miami had plenty of opportunities in the game, but they couldn't make use of them, and their coach Eric Spoelstra admitted it after the game.
Spoelstra said his players worked on a number of issues they faced in Game 5 during their practice sessions.
"Clear heads... and to connect," Spoelstra said. "We didn't want to leave it all to tomorrow. There were some things we wanted to go over, and for time's sake, splitting it up was a little bit more efficient."
Paul George turned out to be the main difference-maker in the last game, as he finished with 37 points, six rebounds and two assists. His 21 points in the final quarter helped the Pacers to seal the game and stave off the elimination.
The Heat just took eight free throws in the fifth game, compared to 22 taken by the Pacers. "We just didn't get to the free-throw line," James said. "We were aggressive... we shot the ball extremely well. We just didn't get to the line."
Indiana's Lance Stephenson tried to distract James by blowing in his ear and then tried listening to Miami's huddle. James later said he was unaffected by all these tactics as he focused on getting the job done for his side.
It would be interesting to see how these tactics will help Stephenson, who is struggling on the court since the first game. Just when the Pacers need full concentration and need to win both remaining games, these mind games might work against them.
Last time Stephenson tried to get into James' mind, the Miami star racked up 32 points and closed the fourth game and this is the last thing Indiana will be hoping for.
"People are in my huddle all the time. Every player in the NBA does that. That's nothing," Vogel said. "Blowing in his face probably crosses the line. That's not really who we are. We want to be a competitive team, but we don't want to cross the line."
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8:30 pm ET (6:00 am IST, 12:30 am GMT) start with live coverage on Sony Six and Sony Six HD in India. The game can be watched via live streaming option in the US HERE. The game can be live streamed by international viewers, including India, HERE.