The Indiana Pacers played their best game in the NBA Playoffs—and perhaps, the entire season—in the opening game of their best-of-seven series against the Miami Heat. How will LeBron James and company respond in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals?
Known for their tough, grind-it-out defense, the Pacers turned to their offense shooting 51.5 per cent from the floor (35-of-68 FG) in hacking out a convincing 107-96 victory over the two-time defending champions.
The offense was so good that it didn’t matter for the Pacers if Miami shot an equally impressive 51.3 per cent (40-of-78) field goals. Dwyane Wade had 27 points and LeBron James had 25 points for the Heat but Indiana was simply better on this end: all five Pacers starters scored in double-figures.
Paul George had 24 points and 7 assists while big men David West and (the good) Roy Hibbert added 19 markers apiece. Lance Stephenson ended up with 17 points and George Hill, 15.
The Pacers took control of the game very early leading 30-24 at the end of the first quarter. At the end of the halftime break that lead ballooned to 10 points, 55-45. Indiana never let up in the second half and won via the blowout.
To repeat in Game 2 and take a commanding 2-0 lead, the Pacers have to be ready for a James bounce- back game.
"I think he's going to be looking to make more plays, looking to shoot more shots and really looking to get guys going. It's going to be a tough night for me, but that's part of the league," Pacers forward George said about nemesis James via NBA.com.
The league’s best player knows the challenge too.
"My approach is the same every game, try to put pressure on the defense, try to get to the free-throw line to help us win. I got to the rim, I got my shots going, but I've got to do a little more, too," said James in the same article.
Can the Heat tie the series before going back to Miami?