The biggest concern the Indiana Pacers had before Game 1 was how they would match up when the Miami Heat went to a small lineup. Turns out that those concerns are still around. The Heat will be looking to take a 2-0 lead when they host the Pacers in Game 2 on Friday. Indiana elected to leave 7-2 center Roy Hibbert on the bench on the decisive play of overtime in Game 1, afraid Miami would spread the defense by running Chris Bosh wide.
Turned out the Heat did not need Bosh on the final play, but the Pacers definitely needed Hibbert, as no one was around to stop LeBron James’ hard drive to the rim on the game-winning bucket. “Obviously, with the way it worked out, it would have been better to have Roy in the game,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “But you don’t know. If that happens, maybe Bosh is making a jump shot and we’re all talking about that." James ended up with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists but the Pacers showed that they will not be an easy team to bump off en route to a third straight appearance in the NBA Finals for the Heat.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE PACERS: Lost in the decision-making questions after Game 1 was the play of Indiana forward Paul George, who not only played solid defense on James most of the night but scored 25 of his 27 points in the second half and overtime. The All-Star buried a 32-foot, 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime and calmly hit three free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Pacers a one-point lead. But the final play will be the one Indiana looks back at if it falls one win short in the series. Vogel’s idea was to put a switching lineup on the floor and force James to shoot a jumper, but the defense crept up too close on the inbounds pass. “I could see why coach wanted to take me out,” Hibbert said. “With 2.2 seconds left on the clock, they can throw it to Bosh and I’m over-committing in the paint and he can hit a jump shot. My mentality is always to protect the rim.”
ABOUT THE HEAT: James asserted before the series that Miami wasn’t just another team, but a great team. For much of the night on Wednesday, the Heat did in fact look like just another team, equally as good as the Pacers but not head-and-shoulders above. James went about proving himself right on that final play, when he drove toward the basket from above the 3-point line with such force that no one dared get in front of him before he was able to lay it off the glass just in front of the buzzer. “Two teams fought hard,” James said. “We were able to make one more play.” James actually made two driving layups in the final 10 seconds of overtime, the first putting the Heat up by two before George hit the three free throws. Miami struggled to space the floor (5-of-18 from 3-point range) and hit free throws (16-of-25) but got a huge boost off the bench from Chris Andersen, who provided 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting in 18 minutes.
1. The triple-double was James’ ninth in his postseason career, one behind Rajon Rondo and Larry Bird for third all-time.
2. Dwyane Wade (knee) played a postseason-high 41 minutes in Game 1 and scored 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He expects to be ready for Game 2.
3. The teams combined for 41 turnovers in Game 1.
PREDICTION: Heat 93, Pacers 91