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And Another Thing


Game 7, explained

And now to Game 7, mounded high with assumptions, over-served with cliches.

Assumption No. 1: That the Miami Heat is in like Flynn, given that it's the home team and the numbers are heavily on the side of the home team in a Game 7.

Cliche No. 1, serving as the counterweight to Assumption No. 1: It's Game 7. Anything can happen.

"Anything," of course, includes the young Pacers winning, which hardly anyone in America thinks is going to happen. That, however, is a far sunnier outlook for the blue-and-gold than it was a few days ago, when no one in America thought it was going to happen.

But now Dwyane Wade has turned into a hobbling ghost of himself, averaging just 10 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the last two games. And Chris Bosh has simply vanished into thin air, averaging 11.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.7 assists in the series so far.

That's left LeBron James to resurrect Cavaliers LeBron -- i.e., the LeBron who figures if this is going to get done, he's going to have to do it himself. And likely he will.

But "likely" is not "absolutely," and the difference is a Pacers team whose length and inside presence dovetails neatly with the Heat's greatest weakness. Miami has yet to find an antidote to Roy Hibbert, who's averaging 22.8 points and 10.8 rebounds against the Heat -- almost six points and an entire rebound more than he's averaging for the playoffs as a whole. And Paul George has awakened the last two games, scoring 55 points with 19 rebounds and 10 assists.

So, the Pacers have that going for them.

Doesn't mean they're going to win. But they're no longer the lock to lose so many thought they were coming into this series, either. And that figures to make tonight about six flavors of interesting.

Prediction: Heat 88, Pacers 85.

Ben Smith's blog.