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May 31, 2013
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When the first half of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals had concluded, only four points separated the Indiana Pacers from the Miami Heat. Up until that point, the game couldn’t have been any more tightly contested for a series that was tied at two games apiece.

Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, the 3rd quarter happened.

Lebron James—as if he had been suppressing the frustration from being taken out of Game 4’s most important moments for the most egregious of reasons (six fouls)—suddenly decided it was time to bust out the Superman cape, the Hammer of Thor, the latest model of the Ironman suit, what have you. The result was a stunning stretch of individual greatness that spelled itself out in numbers: Lebron outscored the entire Pacers team, 16-13, punctuated by making all five of his shots outside 16 feet in the final 6 minutes. He also scored or assisted on 25 of the Heat’s 30 points that quarter, on the way to posting a final line of 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

The barrage left the Pacers bloodied on the floor, their neck too frail to lift their head off the ground.

Should the Heat go on to win the series, we’ll be pointing at that moment as the series’ turning point, the breakthrough point for a transcendental star going up against a fearsome Indiana squad that showed no remorse playing the part of a bully.

Historically, the Heat are poised to claim this series. As NBA blog Truehoop notes, the game five winner in a best-of-seven series after being tied at 2-2 has gone on to advance 83 percent of the time (141-28).

After such a beating, and with the history on their side, observers have sufficient reason to believe that the Heat will be on their way to a second Finals appearance in as many years. On the flip side, the Pacers are a gritty bunch, and they deserve not to be counted out—if only for that.

As for us, well, we’re going to dive into these key player’s heads, and see what they might be thinking about for the game on Sunday.

NEXT: James tells us who's king around these places