(Photo Credit: www.rollingout.com)
The Miami Heat held a lead after the first quarter for the first time in this series, taking the win 102-90 over the Indiana Pacers. For a team that struggled with slow starts for three out of the last four games, Miami certainly showed no signs of that habit on Monday night.
In fact, the Heat never trailed. Chris Bosh came out strong, scoring the team’s first eight points, after having totaled only nine points for each game of the Eastern Conference Finals previously.
“I wanted to be aggressive tonight, and I wanted to play good basketball. Sometimes it’s always difficult in my situation to kind of do that, but tonight was a good night,” Bosh explained after the game.
What his “situation” is, is unclear, but his teammates and fans alike are undoubtedly glad he once again found his way. Bosh finished Game 4 with 25 points and 6 rebounds.
“I told him he was going to have a great game,” LeBron James said during the postgame news conference. “We got off to a fast start because of him.”
Bosh’s less than dazzling performances during the first three games of this series did not necessarily derail the series for the entire team, but his contributions certainly would have been nice. Without his presence on the defensive end and his scoring abilities, his teammates had to pick up the slack. However, it was more than this fact that led Dwyane Wade to pop in unannounced on Bosh’s late dinner, Saturday night.
“The one cool thing about it was that his teammates were real aggressive to try to get him going,” stated head coach Erik Spoelstra when asked about Bosh’s surge, after Game 4. “That’s nice to see when your brothers are wanting you to be aggressive to get you opportunities.”
Wade did not want to scold Bosh for his shortcomings. Nor did he want to showcase how the rest of the team had been forced to compensate. He simply wanted to let Bosh know that regardless of what happened going forward, they had his back.
“How you can make a guy feel … that can change everything,” commented Wade, on trying to cheer up a frustrated Bosh.
And it worked. Game 4 belonged to Bosh, allowing slow starts for the Heat to become a thing of the past.
But Bosh was not the only one to play phenomenal basketball; James had quite a night himself.
Recording 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, James surpassed Michael Jordan for the most playoffs games (74) in which he scored 25 points or more. He was much more aggressive right off the bat on both ends of the court, made sure he got the looks he wanted, and helped set the pace of the match-up. Although James has been consistently strong during this postseason, he showed a whole new level of intensity and desire on Monday night. This is the James that needs to be present from here on out if Miami plans to three-peat.
Lance Stephenson may credit himself for the game the superstar had, claiming that he thought James’ trash-talk was “a sign of weakness” after Game 3, which motivated him to get back at the Pacers. However, James says otherwise.
“I don’t need any motivation, I’m motivated enough trying to get back to the Finals,” James said when asked about Stephenson after Game 4. “That’s motivating enough. Being one of the leaders of this team, I have to do my job and do my part to help us win. That’s what it’s all about.”
James may have enjoyed shutting Stephenson up by showing him what he is made of, but to say that he is more motivated by a competitor speaking out of turn than by the chance to win another championship, is highly unlikely. James has never been one to let another person get inside his head, and I doubt that will become the case anytime soon.
Game 5 is taking place Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPN. Up 3-1, Miami is potentially only one game away from moving onto the finals.