The Indiana Pacers rolled over the Miami Heat in stunning fashion in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. With the pressure amped up and all eyes on them, the Heat did not wilt under the spotlight, defeating the Pacers 87-83 Tuesday night to tie the series at one game apiece.
The Miami Heat have now won 11 straight games following a playoff loss.
It appears all of the regular season rest Dwyane Wade gave his knee may be paying playoff dividends. Wade came out firing early in the first quarter, scoring eight of his 23 points in the first six minutes and 22 seconds. Not to be outdone, Lance Stephenson matched Wade’s intensity head-on, playing like a man on a mission, putting up six first-quarter points of his own. In a back-and-forth first quarter neither team was able to take a clear advantage, ending with Indiana up 21-20.
Rasual Butler made a rare appearance in the game and the box score, starting off the second quarter with back-to-back threes, giving Indiana a 27-23 lead. The Pacers then proceeded to miss six straight shots combined with multiple turnovers, resulting in an almost five-minute scoring drought. Fortunately for the Pacers, Miami was not able to maximize this opportunity, but managed to established a five-point lead (32-27).
Roy Hibbert broke the seal on the basket for Indiana with 5:52 remaining in the half, leading to a mini run to tie the game 33 all, forcing a Miami timeout.
The Miami Heat quickly regrouped, and built an eight-point lead behind a pair of three-pointers from Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers. The half ended on a jumper from Stephenson, with Miami on top by a score of 41-37
Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, and Udonis Haslem all found their shooting touch in the third quarter for the Miami Heat, combining for 17 points. But Lance Stephenson was the real story of the third, netting 11 of his game-high 25 points, giving the Pacers a 63-62 lead heading into the fourth, all while looking like their best player on the floor.
If the Lance Stephenson reigned supreme in the third quarter, you could say the King ruled the fourth. LeBron took over on both ends of the floor inflicting his will on the Indiana Pacers. From his key block on George Hill’s possible game-tying three-pointer with 3:23 left, or the 13 seemingly effortless points he dropped in the final quarter, LeBron could do no wrong. Dwyane did his best to keep up with LeBron, scoring 10 fourth-quarter points of his own.
Despite playing solid defense on LeBron James, Paul George was mostly absent from the box score hitting on just 4 of 16 shots from the floor, to finish with 14 points on the night.
The Indiana Pacers never gave up, playing hard-nosed basketball until the very last second, but LeBron James and the Miami Heat were victorious when the final buzzer sounded.
The series now moves to Miami tied at one game all. Game 3 will take place Saturday, May 24 at 8:30 PM ET.
LeBron James: “It’s not going to be pretty. Not in the Eastern Conference, it’s never pretty basketball in the Eastern Conference. It’s about who can sustain runs. You know, who can get defensive stops? Who can not turn the ball over and who can get great shots? I think we did that in the fourth.”
Norris Cole: “That’s why they’re [LeBron James and Dwyane Wade] the hundred million dollar guys. They’re unstoppable. They make the game easy for everyone else when they’re in attack mode.”
Dwyane Wade: “Today it was just about how bad we wanted it. It wasn’t about X’s and O’s. It wasn’t a perfect game by no stretch of the imagination. We kept digging down deep, and we got back to Miami Heat basketball.”
George Hill: “We were winning the whole night. We controlled the whole game until the last couple minutes.”