The Miami Heat entered the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers as heavy favorites. The defending champs, though, were soundly defeated to start the series.
On Tuesday night, the Pacers look to take a 2-0 series lead in Game Two. They’ll take the court 48 hours after their dominant victory. Indiana won 107-96, but the contest was much more one-sided than the 11-point margin might indicate. Miami never held a lead, and trailed by as many as 19 points in the final quarter.
"That's probably us at our worst defensively, and you have to give them credit," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They played well, and we never got into a rhythm where we could defend without fouling."
Indiana looked like the team that played so well over the first four months of the season. On Tuesday, they’ll look to continue their balanced attacked from Game Two, when all five starters scored at least 15 points. The Pacers took advantage of their size, as David West and Roy Hibbert scored 19 points apiece.
After being dominated inside, the Heat could try to match the Pacers with a bigger lineup. Spoelstra went small on Sunday night, and the No.1 seed was able to take advantage. With Shane Battier in the starting frontcourt, the Pacers had success in the paint and attempted 37 free throws. Miami got to the line just 15 times.
"It's two contrasting styles — it's who can get to whose scheme more consistently," Spoelstra said, echoing sentiments he has shared in past playoff series with the Pacers. "They got to their game, they were able to mitigate our speed and quickness and we weren't able to get to their size in the paint and their wheelhouse. That has to change."
LeBron James had a double-double in Game One, hitting 11 of his 18 field goal attempts. He appeared confident in between games, as the Heat look to steal home-court advantage. Since the formation of the Big Three, Miami has lost Game One on four occasions, and went on to win all of those series. In that time, the Heat followed up a postseason loss with a victory 10 straight times.
Despite the Game One loss, the Heat are, once again, favorites on the road. Miami is giving Indiana two points, according to most Las Vegas casinos. The over/under has been set at 184.5.
ESPN will broadcast the contest at 8:30 p.m. ET, following the NBA Draft Lottery. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with WatchESPN.
Prediction: Indiana was flawless in Game One. They survived a strong game by James because they were able to get to the basket and make 42 percent of their three-point shots. The Pacers have struggled to score for a large portion of the year. Hibbert has been inconsistent and he could be in line for another one of his single-digit scoring performances. Miami should leave Indiana with a victory.
Predicted Score: Miami 97, Indiana 91