Image courtesy of Pacers.com
During the days that lead up to game one of the Heat and Pacers series, the Pacers were seen as giving the Miami Heat “bulletin board material” with comments they were making. Â In fact, Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 by the league for comments that the Heat flopped more than any other team in the league.
For all of the “bulletin board material” the Pacers gave the Heat, the start of the game was not what most probably expected. Â The Pacers pounced on the Heat early, and just a few minutes into the game had a nine point lead. Â As the Pacers were playing great basketball, ESPN/ABC play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico said, “These are the Pacers. Â You haven’t seen them, but they’re good.”
Tirico and his partner Hubie Brown were very impressed with the Pacers play early on, and they let it be known.
The Pacers were getting high praise because of their ability to lock the Heat down, and making the extra pass on the offensive end. Â The Pacers focus of the series is about making great passes. Â During one of the Pacers timeouts, head coach Frank Vogel said “do what the Mavericks did, only do it better.” Â Vogel is referring to the Dallas Mavericks team that beat the Heat in the NBA Championship last season.
In the early going, Indiana was doing just that. Â Their passes were crisp, the team was unselfish, and they were keeping Lebron James and Dwyane Wade contained. Â Chris Bosh had a great first half with 13 points, but he would never see the floor in the second half because of an abdominal strain suffered late in the first half on a dunk. Â Bosh connected on the dunk and was fouled, but as he went to the ground, you could see the pain he was feeling immediately by his facial expressions. Â Bosh actually made his free throw, ran to the other end, and then realized he had really hurt something. Â Bosh checked out of the game, and never checked back in.
At the time, one may have thought the Heat were in trouble. Â Of the “Big Three,” Bosh was playing the best in the game. Â As the Heat headed to halftime down six, the halftime analysts were starting to wonder if the Heat would battle back, especially with their main interior presence.
Little did anybody know, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade would combine for 42 second half points, four more than the Pacers entire second half output. Â One tough shot after another fell for the Heat, and the Pacers offense turned very stagnant.
The crisp, unselfish passes the Pacers were connecting on early were no longer there. Â Things headed south for the Pacers, and they went there pretty quick. Â Roy Hibbert and David West were no longer owning the paint like the first half, even after the loss of Bosh. Â In fact, Miami outscored the Pacers 18-4 in the paint in the third quarter.
As the game headed to the fourth quarter, the teams found themselves tied. Â In recent memory the Heat have struggled in the fourth quarter, especially in crucial situations. Â However, this game would be far from the “norm.” Â Lebron James and Dwyane Wade took over, and the Pacers had no answer.
The Pacers high scorer for the season, Danny Granger, connected on one of ten shots for seven points. Â Six players on the Pacers roster scored more points than Granger, and that cannot happen if the Pacers hope to compete with the Heat.
The Pacers starting small forward, Paul George, also did not have a strong game offensively, as he only scored six points himself.
When it was all said and done and the final horn sounded, the Heat found themselves on top with a score of 95 to 86.
Lebron James and Dwyane Wade willed their team to the win, and the Pacers late-game execution was far from stellar.
Game two will be played on Tuesday, May 15th. Â All signs are pointing to Chris Bosh being inactive, so look for the Pacers to play through their two big men, David West and Roy Hibbert.
If ever there was a time for Wade and James to prove they are the best duo in the league, the coming games in the Â Pacers and Heat series will be that time.