With Chris Bosh injured and Dwyane Wade struggling, LeBron James found himself bottled up in Game 3 against Indiana. (AP)

With Chris Bosh injured and Dwyane Wade struggling, LeBron James found himself bottled up in Game 3 against Indiana. (AP)

By Phil Latzman

After a five- game ousting of the injury-plagued New York Knicks in the first round and the early elimination of the Chicago Bulls, the team the rest of the NBA loves to hate looked poised for a repeat trip to the finals.

But standing in the way of LeBron James and the Miami Heat were the Indiana Pacers and an unexpected injury to one of their own.

Chris Bosh, the third and most maligned member of the Big 3 –sometimes referred to as the Big 2.5– crumpled up in pain and left Game 1 with an abdominal strain that will keep him out indefinitely.

Miami managed to hang on for a Game 1 win, but the loss of Bosh showed in a home loss Tuesday in which they scored just 75 points, and then again in dramatic fashion in the Pacers blowout win on Thursday night in Indianapolis.

A weary looking and possibly injured Dwyane Wade had one of the worst games of his career, failing to score a point in the first half and finishing just 2-for-13 with just 5 points.

The usually composed Wade was even seen shouting at his head coach Eric Spoelstra on the sidelines during Miami’s second half misery.

“You know, we’re not gonna win a ballgame with Chris Bosh out and me scoring 5 points, so I take the onus on that. There’s frustration in that. You know you wanna do well, and you want to give yourself a chance to win,” Wade said after Game 3.

All of this puts more pressure on the very broad shoulders of LeBron James who won his third MVP award last week but is still seeking his first NBA title. He says he’s not worried about his pal D-Wade.

“It was one of those games when he couldn’t make a shot, and couldn’t get in the rhythm. And as a team we tried to pick it up, but we couldn’t do that tonight. I mean, he’s a better player, one of the best in this world so we’re not worried too much about him,” James said.

Heat fans have watched in horror as last two games unfolded.

Jonathan Stubbs was among the patrons at a South Florida sports bar. He wants LeBron to live up to his prediction when came to Miami nearly 2 years ago.

“He promised us not one, not two, but several championships.  And right now we’re still waiting on one.”

But Stubbs says he doesn’t know if it will be Miami’s year anyway.

“The way the season’s been going, I don’t think the Heat will win a championship this year, because I think OKC is gonna take it all the way,” he said. “But I do think we need a change–we need to get rid of one of the Big 3.”

Mother and daughter Lynne and Jenna Joslin have differing expectations.

“I think they made it pretty far anyway, so they did good regardless of the outcome,” Jenna said.

Lynne offered, “Not far enough I say, because last year they almost made it, so this year no–it has to be all the way.”