Tuesday night at 8:30 PM in the Banker's Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the Pacers will host the HEAT in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals. After this contest, the two will head back to the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami for Game Three on Saturday night.
After winning eight of their first 9 postseason contests with a sweep and a 4-1 series victory, the HEAT dropped game one to the Pacers, 107-96. The Pacers took a much more circuitous route to the ECF, needing seven games to dispatch the upstart Atlanta Hawks and six to eliminate the Washington Wizards.
Game One would see the Pacers successfully defend their home court against the three-time defending Eastern Conference Champions on Saturday night by a 107-96 final score. Paul George led six Pacers in double figures with 24 points, seven assists and four boards. Roy Hibbert scored 19 points with nine rebounds and three helpers, and David West connected on eight-of-11 field goal attempts to finish with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Dwyane Wade led Miami with 27 points on 12-of-18 shooting, along with four assists, while LeBron James pitched in with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five dimes and three steals. Chris "Birdman" Andersen scored 14 on six-of-seven shooting with four rebounds and two rejections.
LeBron James spoke succinctly about the disappointing result:
They took care of business in Game 1, but we'll figure it out for Game 2.
Miami's problem wasn't offensive, as they practically matched the Pacers field goal percentage (the HEAT shot 51.3%, the Pacers clocked in at 51.5%). Miami's problem was it's complete inability to defend against the bomb. At one point, Indiana was six-of-seven from deep. They finished by hitting two of their last 14, but Miami was unable to close the gap before the final horn.
After Game One, Miami and Indiana have played five games since the season opened. Each of those five games have been won by the home team. This was also the first game between these two in which Indiana broke the 100-point barrier. Winning one on the road would seem to be the key in this series for the HEAT, and there's no better time than Tuesday.
Miami has won one-of-two on May 20th throughout history, including one over the Pacers two seasons ago.
The Chicago Bulls rode 37 points from Michael Jordan to hand Miami an 84-77 loss in game one of the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls would also win three of the next four on their way to the NBA Title.
On this date two years ago, the HEAT defeated the Pacers, 101-93 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals behind LBJ (40) and DWade (30) to tie the series at two games apiece. They would also win the next two and four of five from the Oklahoma City Thunder for their second NBA Title.
The Pacers were waiting all season for this moment. All they need to do is protect their house and they'll be representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Not so fast, though. These HEAT have risen to the occasion time and again, and I don't know about you, but I'm not quite ready to count them out.
Roy Hibbert had a pretty good game one (19/9/3), but he only shot five-of-13 from the field, he's hardly the player he was before. The Birdman is key here. Chris Andersen and Chris Bosh will be matching up with Hibbert. One is power, the other finesse. Hopefully the combination will keep him off balance.
This is not the first time recently that Miami has been down in a series. This is the fifth time out of Norris Cole's 11 playoff series that the HEAT have been down a game, and Miami has closed all of them.
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