With the series tied 2-2 entering Tuesday’s game between the Heat and Pacers, NBA fans pondered a Conference Finals series without the powerhouse, star-driven Miami squad. That concern quickly drifted to the recesses of the their minds once the Heat started to pour it on in the second half of Game 5. Miami opened up a nine-point lead heading into halftime before doubling it in the third quarter. It only got uglier from there.

The Heat showed heart and, though the game was marred by flagrant fouls (suspensions coming?), left no room for doubt in the 32-point victory. In fact, the Heat have outscored the Pacers by 48 points since halftime of Game 4.

– LeBron James narrowly missed a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

– Dwyane Wade, playing with a cut over his eye after one of the scraps, added 28 points and finished with a +24 for the night.

– Most importantly, Udonis Haslem demonstrated the physicality expected of him and protected his teammates. Haslem scored 10 points and six rebounds.

Larry Bird called his team “soft” after the game. I can’t wait to see how the Pacers regroup, if they do, in Game 6. Darren Rovell of CNBC noted that some 1,500 tickets could be purchased for $45 or less on secondary ticketing sites.

You’re going to see a battle following Bird’s comments. I can’t wait to watch how the Pacers’ frontcourt operates in the low post.