Mrs. Quickie won me over on our first date when she talked about how offensive rebounding was the essential skill in winning basketball.
I couldn't help but think about that as the Pacers out-rebounded the Heat last night -- 49-30 for the game, 17-4 in the devastating 4th quarter.
Whew: That one sequence with about two minutes to go when Paul George missed a 3 and Roy Hibbert got the O-rebound and put-back, then on the Pacers' next offensive set, the missed shot by Stephenson, followed by a David West O-rebound, out to Hibbert for a jumper, which he missed... then followed up by grabbing his own miss and putting it back in, including a foul on the shot by LeBron, his 5th, which would emerge as rather important when, a half-minute later, LeBron was called for that absurd offensive foul and had to leave the game.
(Today's USA TODAY Sports column leads with Joey Crawford's officiating, but quickly moves to the more deterministic factor of Indiana's rebounding. Check it out here.)
It is important to keep in mind that everything broke right for the Pacers and they STILL only won narrowly. But they won. And they seem to have the template for keeping pace with the Heat: Rebound, rebound, rebound:
It was all the more impressive that the Pacers came back from Tuesday's Game 3 debacle at home to punch the Heat in the mouth, not unlike the way the Heat won Game 4 of their conference semifinal series a year ago.
The Pacers seem unafraid. Chris Bosh is hobbled, joining Dwyane Wade -- LeBron remains unstoppable, and even moreso when he gets a corrective measure in the foul category from the refs in Game 5 back in Miami. But he is more alone in his greatness than he has been since his final season with the Cavs.
The pendulum continues to swing in this series, and I'm back to the delightful idea that this is a toss-up -- no question: The Pacers have a shot at knocking off the Heat.