The Heat beat the Pacers in Game 4 last night for many reasons, but let’s start with one. Here are both teams’ marks from the free-throw line:
- Pacers: 11-of-17
- Heat: 30-of-34
An even free-throw disparity has absolutely nothing to do with whether a game is officiated well. Sometimes – quite often, probably – one team deserves more free throws than the other.
That was the case last night.
Just don’t tell that to Paul George, who made his case for a fine during his post-game press conference.
George, via ASAP Sports:
Looking at the stat sheet, we outplayed them. You got to give them credit. They won this game at the free‑throw line. They really just were able to get to the line more than we were, but I thought we outplayed them tonight.
This one‑‑ I thought we did a great job. I just thought we did a great job. We rallied at the end to try to make a push.
But, again, they made 30 free throws, and that put them over the edge.
I mean, you can’t tell me we don’t attack the basket as much as they attack the basket. You can’t tell me we’re not aggressive. Maybe we’re too aggressive. But I feel like we’re just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim. Maybe this was just home cooking.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were asked about George’s comments. As Wade gave a diplomatic answer about aggressiveness and having no control over the officials, LeBron studied the box score. When Wade finished, LeBron responded:
We did only have five turnovers, seven steals, and 20 points off their turnovers. That has nothing to do with the free-throw line.
There’s no simpler way to put this: LeBron is right, and George is wrong.
The Pacers shot better from the field and 3-point range than Miami. They also out-rebounded and out-assisted Miami. If you didn’t watch the game, maybe you could convince yourself Indiana was the better team and just didn’t catch a break.
But the Heat dominated the game, and the final score — along with some stats that go with it — are misleading. Nearly halfway through the fourth quarter, Miami led by 23. At that point – with LeBron out for part of it and Chris Bosh out for all of it – Indiana went on a 13-1 run.
The Heat deserved their free throws – at least enough of them to get this win comfortably. And turnovers count. Miami forced seven live-ball turnovers to the Pacers’ one.
George, who led Indiana with five turnovers, can’t just attribute the problem to bad luck. The Pacers, George included, are a bad ball-handling and bad passing team.
Maybe that’s because they don’t believe protecting the ball is as much a part of basketball as making shots and grabbing rebounds. I guess that’s their prerogative, or at least George’s.
They can keep that belief, keep “outplaying” their opponent and keep losing.