An overplay and a poor coaching decision cost the Indiana Pacers a huge one game advantage over the defending champion Miami Heat, but there is still plenty of time in the seven-game series to make some noise.
The Pacers and Heat square off in Game Two Friday night at American Airlines Arena, and Indiana can still use their Game One performance as a confidence booster to steal home court advantage.
Forward Paul George put up a scintillating 27 points, including the game-tying 40-foot three-pointer that forced the game into overtime. What could have been a breakout performance instead resulted in a questioning of George’s defense in the final two seconds.
David West also took advantage of Miami’s lack of interior defense for 26 points and five rebounds, but ultimately Indiana fell 103-102 after LeBron James’s buzzer-beating layup.
James tallied the second triple-double of these playoffs with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, and his last-second drive led Pacer fans to question head coach Frank Vogel’s decision to bench big man Roy Hibbert in the closing seconds. George also overplayed James on the final play, essentially handing him the lane.
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Hibbert also put together a strong game with 19 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks, but also reportedly said he should have insisted on being on the floor towards the end of Game 1.
Miami’s Chris Bosh scored 17 points and Dwyane Wade also notched 19 points, but did appear slowed by his troubling knee.
Late-season signing Chris Andersen has his best playoff game of the year so far with 16 points, five rebounds, and three blocks off the bench for Miami. Tyler Hansbrough provided a balance of size and scoring off the Indiana bench for 10 points and six rebounds.
Both teams will have to clear-up their turnover issues, with each credited with 20 turnovers in Game One. Neither was able to generate much of a fastbreak off the turnovers, with Miami scoring 11 on the break to Indiana’s 12.
The game begins at 8:30 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by TNT, or watch their free live online stream at TNT Overtime here.
Betting Odds: Miami is favored by 7.5 points.
Over/Under: 182 points
Prediction: The turnover battle wasn’t an issue so much in Game 1, but could be the key to the series. Miami has the edge on perimeter defense, while Indiana is much more balanced from inside and out. If the Heat and James can protect the ball and kick start their fast break, Miami will take a 2-0 advantage.
Predicted Score: Miami 100, Indiana 90