May 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) drives to the basket as Indiana Pacers point guard Darren Collison (2) defends during the first half in game two of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did as much as they could to make up for the absence of Chris Bosh in their first game without him. But missed opportunities at the free throw line and point-blank shots rattling off the rim by both superstars during the closing moments of the fourth quarter ultimately doomed the Heat as the Indiana Pacers pulled away for the hard-fought 78-75 victory to get the split on the road and head back home with the series tied at 1-1.
Critics will immediately jump on LeBron for missing 3 of 4 free throws in the closing minutes of the game, but in truth the Heat wouldn't have had a chance if it wasn't for what he and Wade did to keep the Heat close, who were trailing since the midway point of the third quarter. The team only mustered 14 points in the third quarter with a flat offense that featured little to no ball movement and zero creativity.
There were no bright spots on a team in which the third-highest scorers were Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier with 5 points each. The team shot a pitiful 1-16 from three-point territory and just 27-78 (34.6%) overall from the field. The Heat's only three-pointer so far this series was from Battier to break a 33-33 tie in the second quarter. The Heat only scored six fast break points, robbing them of easy buckets in a game in which they desperately needed them.
The Pacers weren't much better offensively the whole game but turned the game around with 28 points in the third quarter after a horrific shooting performance in the first half. Indiana couldn't make a basket the final several minutes of the first quarter after a good start feeding the ball inside to Roy Hibbert. However, in stark contrast to their opponent, four of their five starters ended up scoring in double figures.
Game 3 is Thursday in Indiana where the Heat must figure out how to get more offensive support for Wade and James or they will suddenly be trailing in this series. For the most part tonight, the Heat's defense was good enough to have given them a chance to win the game, it's just that no one else besides the Big 2 could be counted on to hit a shot. Someone among the group that consists of Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Battier must hit double-figures or this series will get even uglier than it already is.