The 76ers weren't going to let LeBron close them out. They swarmed him in the post -- even doubling him off the ball -- and packed the paint before he could consider driving. For all his troubles and the miserable 3-point first half, James' playmaking came out of that pressure. When did his scoring finally come alive? LeBron Time, of course, at the end of the third.
He attacked the basket early but spent many of those attempts flailing into defenders, then tumbling to the ground, despondent at the absence of a whistle. Wade was frantic (the technical in the final minute potentially fatal), but that proved helpful defensively and on the boards. Then the big 3-pointer at the 8:33 mark of the fourth gave the Heat their first double-digit lead.
Bosh has waited eight NBA seasons for a conference semifinal berth, and the emotion fueling that anticipation revealed itself at the 7:26 mark of the fourth. Bosh battled for an offensive rebound and drew a foul. Bosh then stomped to the sideline and unleashed a roar to the delight of the crowd -- a triumphant moment for a skilled player often maligned during his career.
The Heat's design, in large part, was to surround their big three with shooters who could take advantage of open looks generated by kickouts against collapsing defenses. Chalmers made good on that formula, as he made the Sixers pay for their smothering defense on Wade and James. On a night when the big three needed help, Chalmers provided it.
They never went away, not when Wade hit that 3, not when Bosh burned them on that offensive board and not when Joel Anthony blocked Evan Turner. The 76ers just tightened their grip on Miami. Andre Iguodala unleashed his athleticism, and Elton Brand found space for his face-up game. This series was far more competitive than the 4-1 margin suggests.