The Heat bring out the best in the Pacers. Maybe they have all along.
It took this matchup against their hated rivals to bring the Pacers back to reality. For the first time all Playoffs, the Pacers were the dominant defensive team, bullying their way into the paint and moving the ball with speed and purpose. They kept the Heat on the perimeter, despite seeing the pace picked up to a level the Heat probably liked.
All five Pacers starters scored in double figures. Paul George scored 24 points and dished out seven assists. Roy Hibbert and David West each had 19 points. They beat the Heat up inside. Indiana had 23 assists on 35 field goal attempts. The Pacers made 29 of 37 free throws, attacking and getting to the line against the Heat’s defense.
They also hit eight of 19 3-pointers.
The Heat seemed to have all the opposite problems. They settled for mid-range jumpers, were unable to get out on the break or crack the Pacers’ defense. They were passive and let Indiana dictate everything.
Sure LeBron James and Dwyane Wade got their numbers. James scored 25 points to go with 10 rebounds, shooting 11 for 18 from the floor. Wade had 27 points on 12-for-18 shooting. Miami even shot 51.3 percent from the floor. Chris Andersen even scored 14 points.
But Miami just never could get back into the game. The stops were never there. They brought Indiana’s double digit deficit to eight points once and it was all Pacers. Trading baskets was not going to be enough.
Indiana had the right motivation and the right energy to win one game. They need three more to accomplish their big goals from the whole season. It is still out there, despite it all.