Another Pair of 2-2 Ties?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Last night both the Nets and the Lakers brought their series to 2-2 ties. Can the Heat and the Kings accomplish that same feat tonight? Miami is playing not only to prove to naysayers that they belong in the playoffs, but to ensure at least one more home game. A loss tonight means Indiana can close out the series at home this weekend.

It may be hard to believe but the Miami Heat are one of the eight best teams in the league; at least, they're one of the eight still standing. No one picks them to beat Indiana. But on the other hand, no one can argue with results. Miami's home court is at least as devastating to opponents as any other arena. The fans are best described as rabid. They have the thirst that comes of long suffering.

"Patience is bitter," goes a famous quote by Jean Jacques Rousseau, "but its fruit is sweet."

The Heat have in many ways awakened a sleeping giant. Jermaine O'Neal suggests that the Pacers became complacent after winning so many games by such wide margins. Indiana has focused on rebounding and free throw shooting in these intervening days and are looking to come out strong and put this upstart Heat team away. They will be looking to stop Dwyane Wade with fouls, nothing to harm him, but just to let him know they're there.

Like that's going to deter Wade for even a microsecond.

This kid's tougher than nails. And the only thing the Pacers have come up with to stop him is to try to foul him a little harder?

Let's hope that really is the extent of Indiana's defensive adjustment.

The Nets and Lakers ties their respective series last night. Two out-of-sample data points are of absolutely no statistical significance but they do pack a psychological whallop. No one expected the Nets to dominate the Pistons like they did from start to finish in last night's game. Perhaps the Heat can do it too.

The Heat's playoff run continues tonight, Wednesday, May 12th, at 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on ESPN. The complete playoff schedule is as follows:
1 - Miami (81) @ INDIANA (94)
2 - Miami (80) @ INDIANA (91)
3 - Indiana (87) @ MIAMI (94)
4 - Indiana @ Miami - Wednesday, May 12th - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on ESPN
5 - Miami @ Indiana - Saturday, May 15th - TBA (if needed) on TNT
6 - Indiana @ Miami - Tuesday, May 18th - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT (if needed) on ESPN
7 - Miami @ Indiana - Thursday, May 20th - TBA (if needed) on ESPN

Carol Butler got yet another steal in Monday's game, extending his streak of playoff games with at least one steal to ten. That sets a new franchise record, surpassing the nine game prior record held by Dan Majerle.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Herald notes: Former Heat guard Rex Chapman was part of TNT's broadcast team at Monday's Game 3, and he didn't mind Jones trying to shoot his way out of his slump. Jones was 4 of 12 Monday. 'There's an old gambling saying that `you've got to be in it to win it,' and another one that says 'scared money never made no money,' '' Chapman said. ``Eddie has to keep shooting to find his shot.''

Brian Grantgot 12 stitches after being elbowed by teammate Lamar Odom, but appears to be fine.


The Miami Heraldwrites: Look at the people who just got done punching Indiana in the mouth:Brian Grant, undersized. Malik Allen, completely forgotten. Lamar Odom, discarded underachiever, wanted only by Miami. Udonis Haslem, undrafted. Rafer Alston, doubted circus curiosity. Dwyane Wade, too small. Caron Butler, draft dropper. Stan Van Gundy, so anonymous he isn't even the best coach in his own family. They all know what it is like to be alone with your belief. It's what makes them work so hard.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Herald writes: There he was, sitting stunned on the AmericanAirlines Arena floor Monday night with blood racing down the right side of his face as if he just had the worst shaving experience in human history. His own teammate, Lamar Odom, elbowed Grant on the right side of his mouth, creating a gash so wide he needed 12 stitches.As if the sports world didn't already feel sorry for Brian Grant.

Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Herald writes: If you're the Heat right now, you're probably feeling pretty good after handing the Indiana Pacers their first loss of the postseason.After a record six straight victories by double-digit margins, it began to look less and less likely the Pacers would lose during these playoffs. But the Heat pulled off the unlikely and walked away with a 94-87 victory Monday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Well, congratulations, Miami. Seems all the Heat did was awake a sleeping 61-win giant.

Jeremy Fowler ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: You could almost hear the defenders talk to Heat guard Dwyane Wade with their eyes, almost daring him. Take the shot, rookie. I know you can't hit it. ''He just wouldn't shoot it,'' said Heat guard Rafer Alston, referring to the first half of the season, when Wade relied almost completely on driving to the basket. ``They'd be eight feet off the guy, too, playing him to the shot.'' The Heat's trusty rookie would routinely pump fake and zoom to the rim, usually to much success. These days, however, in the most crucial of days for the Heat in the second round of the NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers, Wade has enjoyed responding to his defender with his wrist and a swish.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Herald writes: Heat coach Stan Van Gundy made it clear Monday that he has no intention of making drastic changes during this, or any, playoff series. But he did make one slight tweak to his approach in Game 3. Not since the early part of the season has Van Gundy gone with Lamar Odom at small forward.

Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Herald writes: Think the Pacers are getting desperate to stop Heat guard Dwyane Wade? Based on the measures they're considering to stop him, it appears so. Wade has 66 points in three games against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, none more emphatic than his fourth-quarter dunk over Jermaine O'Neal on Monday. Well, some Pacers players have seen enough. ''At some point, we have put him on the floor,'' Pacers forward Al Harrington said when asked how Indiana can prevent Wade from getting to the basket. ``Nothing flagrant or anything like that but just foul him.''

Mike Phillips ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: No one wants to think about the fact tonight's game could be the last one at home this season.The Heat closed the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series to 2-1 with a 94-87 victory Monday night at AAA, and a win tonight guarantees the series will return to Miami for Game 6. But a loss tonight would mean a 3-1 edge for Indy, with Game 5 on Saturday night in Indiana, where the Pacers could close out the series.

Stephen F. Holder and Barry Jackson ofThe Miami Heraldwrite: A publicist for CBS talk-show host David Letterman called the Heat on Tuesday to get details of a Letterman impersonation that ran on the AmericanAirlines Arena scoreboard during a first-quarter timeout in Game 3. In the segment, Letterman offered a top 10 list why ''Miami is better than my home state of Indiana.'' Among them: ''Sand between your toes beats dirt between your teeth.'' The Heat showed Letterman on the scoreboard and did not make clear that it was not Letterman reading the list. ''That wasn't Dave's list, and it wasn't Dave,'' said Tom Keaney, Letterman's spokesperson. Letterman declined to comment, and Keaney declined to say if Letterman was angry.

Harvey Fialkov ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Spanish painter Salvador Dali once said: "Have no fear of perfection -- you'll never reach it."After the Heat absorbed no-doubt losses in the first two games on the road of this Eastern Conference semifinal, a popular viewpoint held that it would take a perfect game to defeat the top-seeded Pacers.

Shandel Richardson ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: The normally soft voice of Heat center Brian Grant was even more faint Tuesday.A day after being hit by a flying elbow from teammate Lamar Odom, the stitches in the right corner of Grant's swollen mouth made it difficult to speak. 

Ethan J. Skolnick ofThe Miami Herald writes: Before the series, many wondered how rusty the Pacers would be after a 10-day layoff. But perhaps that rust didn't really affect them until Game 3, a result of unfamiliarity with anything that wasn't an easy 10-point victory. That's what Jermaine O'Neal determined after reviewing a tape he called "embarrassing.""You go six games without losing, it's not even that close, you kind of disrespect the game a little bit," O'Neal said.

Ethan J. Skolnick ofThe Miami Herald writes: Hours before Game 3, Stan Van Gundy was educating the TNT crew on this basketball curiosity he has coached into the middle of May."And one of the guys, I won't say which one, just came out and said, `Come on, you guys don't belong here. How'd you get here?' You know, well, fine, whatever people's perceptions are, they are. But we're here, we're at 2-1 and we have a chance to win this series. So as long as the 19 of us, the 15 players and four coaches in there, believe that and approach it that way, we're fine."