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May 25, 2013

G3: Heat 114, Pacers 96: Haslem the spark as champs strike back with balance for 2-1 lead; plus Heat poll, Dolphins projection, Sad-O-Meter & more

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 27. It is Memorial Day. Thank you to all who have served our country in the military, past and present. 2) Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes column, leading with Heat-Pacers. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's Game 2 loss, Heath Evans' Dolphins-bashing, A-Rod's big sale. 4) I Tweeted a 36-second video of LeBron James' pregame stretch to a Drama/Ludracris tune. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote and now on Instagram at upsetbird.

"Can we the media please stop handing a soapbox and megaphone to imprisoned Nevin Shapiro!? Please?" --Greg Cote

Click on Answering Doubters, Answering Everything for my column off last night's Heat win.

G3: HEAT 114, PACERS 96: HUGE TEAM EFFORTS PUTS MIAMI BACK IN CHARGE: One-man show LeBron James needed support and Udonis Haslem raised his hand highest, with 17 points on surreal 8-for-9 shooting Sunday night in a 114-96 Heat win that gives Miami a 2-1 lead in the Eastern finals. LeBron would score 22 and again display a do-what's-needed mentality, aggressively foraying into the paint with more low-post play than we've seen from him in a while. Dwyane Wade scored an active 18. Chris Bosh hit big shots early. Birdman Andersen (4-for-4, 9 points) continued his torrid postseason. Just a huge all-round team win, with a 70-point first half reminding all how dominant Miami can be when it plays well. See link to my game column above. Original post: San Antonio is breezing 3-0 over Memphis out West, but the East is beastly in the NBA, with reigning champion Miami tied 1-1 and facing two straight in Indianapolis starting tonight. Public faith in the Heat 1aa1heatindreflected in betting lines is not yet abandoned, with Miami a 1- to 1.5- 1aa1g3point favorite tonight despite Pacers having momentum and being 6-0 at home in the playoffs. South Florida's faith in the Heat seems to have taken a hit, though, as reflected in the poll results below that indicate a plurality of more than 43 percent of respondents call themselves "very concerned" that the Heat might not advance past Pacers. Even if you factor in a sizable number of votes from Indiana skewing results somewhat, the poll still indicates real concern by Heat fans. That concern could pivot toward panic with another loss tonight. Miami simply must have two or three guys step up in a big way to help one-man-show LeBron James. Talking to you, Dwyane Wade. Talking to you, Shane Battier and Ray Allen on 3's. Talking to you, Chris Bosh (especially in rebounding). Miami's BIg 3 era was forged on skeptics and doubts and the team tends to respond when pushed. As Chris Bosh said after Game 2, "Our backs are against the wall, and I think this is what we need right now." We're about to find out if he's right.

Note: The vast majority of poll votes below were cast after the Game 1 loss and before last night's win. Amazing how the mindset has changed overnight, isn't it?

HOW CONCERNED SHOULD THE HEAT AND THEIR FANS BE RIGHT NOW?: Original post, following Game 2: I'll admit, this probably is not a question that lends itself to an honest answer. Not right now, when the loss is still raw. Not right now, when the reality of a 1-1 Eastern Conference finals heading to Indiana is still being fathomed. And maybe 1aa1heatfanespecially not here, where a poll will draw mostly Heat fans who may or may not be able to answer with total honesty. But we'll give it a shot anyway. I'll count on Heat fans to try to shed their fan's skin and answer as if they were neutral observers looking at this Heat-Pacers matchup from the outside. Me, I still like Miami's chances. I think the Heat will win one of the next two to wrest back home-court advantage. But I also think Indiana poses a grave risk of ending Miami's repeat-title dreams. The Big 3-era Heat were forged on doubt and are accustomed to outside panic after trailing in three playoff rounds a year ago. As Chris Bosh said around midnight last night, "Our backs are against the wall and I think this is what we need right now." He may be right. But mindset and will won't get it done if the Heat can't limit Roy Hibbert' s inside dominance. Mindset and will won't be enough if LeBron James doesn't start getting a lot more help from his teammates, fast. Where is your head at as a 1-1 series moves on to Indianapolis? Vote and say why.

DOLPHINS, AFC EAST WIN PROJECTIONS: Dolfans, Las Vegas says you should maybe hold off on that "Super Bowl!" chant. Bovada's win over/unders for AFC East are Patriots 11.5, Dolphins 7.5 and Bills and Jets both 6.5. Pats' projection ties Broncos and 49ers for NFL-best. Low is Jaguars at 5.

SAD-O-METER: MARLINS NOW VIRTUALLY AT RECORD-LOSS PACE: We have this new blog feature we update as 1aa1bbsadlong as Marlins' winning percentage is under .300 -- as long as the New York Mets' infamous 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is within dubious reach. Well, four straight losses now have S-O-M purring ever closer to record pace. Updated Sad-O-Meter: Current record, 13-36 (.265). Season projection, 42.98 wins, 119.02 losses.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost. And I'm not just saying that...

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