Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers
At the end of the regular season it appeared like neither the Miami Heat or The Indiana Pacers made getting home court advantage a priority. The Pacers struggled down the stretch in general while the Heat rested key players in games in which they still had a shot at the top seed. It seemed like the Pacers got the number 1 seed by default and now it may be the key towards maintaining the momentum they received after their 107-96 win in game 1.
Game 1 was the blueprint for how the Pacers can be virtually unbeatable for a variety of reasons
- Roy Hibbert was dominant- The Pacers were +19 while Roy Hibbert was on the court. He impacted the game with his defense around the basket, constantly forcing Miami players to pull up as opposed to drive to the basket. He was also a big impact on offense with 19 points and 9 rebounds as well as many good passes out of double teams that eventually led to points for his team.
- Paul George played like a superstar with 24 points and 7 assists while defending James for most of the game. While nobody can truly defend Lebron one on one he did a good job of keeping him out of his comfort zone while funneling him into the teeth of his teams defense
- The role players stepped up big- David West was unstoppable on the pick and roll and played his usual strong defense while on his way to 19 points and 7 rebounds. George Hill consistently got his team into its offense while making the outside shot while open. He finished with 15 points overall. Lance Stephenson played a team high 41 minutes and was probably the best player on the court with 17 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds. C.J Watson even came off the bench and chipped in 10 points. The Pacers will not be able to keep this pace up throughout the series. The key will be to see if they are able to win games when they are not clicking on all cylinders.
For Miami, they went down by 6 and the end of the first quarter and then 10 at the half. While they were able to make runs, however never able to close within multiple baskets due to the fantastic play of Indiana and an uncharacteristic poor game from Chris Bosh. 9 points and 2 rebounds will not be enough when matching up with this Pacer front line. Dwayne Wade played a fantastic game with 27 points on 12-18 from the field in 39 minutes. James had 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. He played great for most players, however just average by his standards. The Miami bench received strong performances from Chris Anderson (14 points) and Ray Allen (12 points).
Game one is often the forgotten game in a series so hopefully the Pacers realize they have not won anything yet. Look for Miami to possibly utilize Udonis Haslem more with his veteran presence and strong rebounding. The Pacers were able to win game 1 without much help from the bench and with lights out shooting. It is highly unlikely that they will win another game in the series that way. The key will be to see if they are able to get defensive stops when they are not