Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 5/25/13

After watching Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the general public seemed to come away with the assumption that the Pacers had thrown their best punch at Miami. Although the Heat didn’t play their best game by far, Miami still walked away with the “W”. LeBron was not going to pick up two quick first quarter fouls ever again, and Indiana would not get a performance like they did from Paul George again, because LeBron would stop him right? And there is no way the Heat would allow themselves to get off to such a bad start and dig themselves an early hole…right? Wrong. Photo Credit: Andrew Innerarity / Reuters Frank Vogel, fresh off two terrible decisions to take rim-protector Roy Hibbert out of the game late in Game 1, got his troops ready to go for Friday night’s contest and no one saw it coming. The Pacers led at one point in the 1st quarter by 12 and the Heat were very lucky to come out of the period only down 6. Hibbert asserted himself quickly with 10 points and was able to dominate the paint. Miami had no answer. The Heat trailed by as many as 13 in the 2nd with a minute to play, and with Haslem, Bosh, and Anderson in foul trouble, Erik Spoelstra turned to the always banged up sharp-shooter, Mike Miller. In that closing minute the 13-point Pacers’ lead diminished to six after Mike Miller’s buzzer beater three found the bottom of the rim and sent Miami into halftime with all of the momentum. So now all of the good things that Indiana had seemed to accomplish in the 1st half had gone to waste because they allowed the defending champs some daylight, and that is all they usually need. As the 3rd quarter came to a close, Miami grew closer to the lead as they trailed by a lone bucket. LeBron had completely put his stamp on the game and was un-guardable. He had all of his tricks going in the game: the drive, the mid-range jumper, the three-pointer, the defense, and the determination of not losing the game. So, Indiana barely held the lead heading into the last period. Would they allow another game to slip away? Maybe the Jim O’Brien Pacers would, but not Frank Vogel’s. With Miami down two going into the 4th quarter I will guarantee that at least 95% of the viewers watching thought the Heat would take control and come away up 2-0 in the series. Paul George and Co. had another thought, surprise them all and tie it up. The Heat grabbed a four-point lead with just over six minutes remaining after Chris Bosh was found in the corner for an open three. Vogel called time and hammered into his players’ heads that they had been here before and this time they were going to win the game. Well, after a few empty possessions by both teams, Lance Stephenson knocked down a huge three that cut the deficit to one. Over the next three minutes Hibbert and James traded buckets which resulted in a tie ball game with three minute left. Then with 1:12 left and the score tied at 93 apiece, Chris Bosh intercepted a bad pass from Stephenson. He pushed the ball up court to Wade, where Wade forced a ten footer over two players which resulted in a bad miss. Two George Hill free throws followed that play and Miami was left with the ball down two and 48 seconds left in regulation. Following a timeout by Erik Spoelstra, LeBron possessed the ball and a chance to do it all over again like did in Game 1. Well, Bron decided to dish the rock to Ray Allen on the left elbow, except David West intercepted the pass and caused a huge turnover. If LeBron had gone with the simple bounce pass it would have gotten underneath West’s high placed hands. Lucky for LeBron he would get a chance at redemption after Miami forced a 24-second violation on the defensive end of the court. With 17 seconds left LeBron once again had the ball in his hands at the top of the key and the game on the line. With Roy Hibbert on the court this time, LeBron drove to the hole and proceeded to stop with an attempt to kick out the ball to a wing shooter to try and make a basket. Unfortunately, George Hill stole the pass this time and sealed the game with two free throws following the forced turnover. Indiana did it. Somehow they withstood the Heat at home, and outplayed them for the second time this series. If not for a coaching blunder at the end of Game 1, Miami would be down 2-0 in the Eastern Finals heading to Indiana. This was only Miami’s 4th loss in 50 games dating back to the regular season, but it most certainly won’t be their last. Indiana is for real. Their height and constant defense have proven to be two things that won’t go away. Hibbert has combined for 48 points and 19 rebounds in both games and Miami simply is not tall enough to defend the enormous center. Indiana’s top of the line team defense is stunning and besides LeBron, no one has shown they have what it takes to help out on Miami. Wade and Bosh each shot an average 6-14 from the field and combined for only 31 points in Game 2. LeBron scored an efficient 36 points on 14-20 shooting, but with no help from the rest of the “Big Three” they will not win this series. Mario Chalmers has looked awful, as well as Norris Cole. The two guards played a combined 48 minutes on Friday night, but only scored nine points total! Ray Allen has played very good defense, but he is on the team to stretch the defense with his three point shot that will find him in the Hall of Fame one day. Ten points so far in the series does not cut it for Allen and he will need to step up big time. Their big key to the victory in Game 1 was Chris “Birdman” Anderson’s 7-7 shooting from the field and his 16 points. In Game 2 Anderson played only 15 minutes in part due to foul trouble, and his presence was deeply missed. Throughout the regular season Indiana prided themselves in shutting the opposing team down and just getting away with their poor offense. So far in the playoffs, it seems that the offense is thriving somehow and the defense hasn’t gone anywhere. Paul George, this year’s Most Improved Player of the Year, has emerged as a bona fide star and is taking over this series along with Hibbert. At the end of the 3rd quarter in Game 2 George pulled off an emphatic slam over Chris Anderson, which was then followed by a buzzer beater three from LeBron. After the play, both players, LeBron and George, acknowledged each other for their outstanding play as a way of just telling us that they are both playing at a level only a select few in this world can play at. George has averaged 24.5 points a game so far in the Eastern Finals and LeBron has averaged 33 points a game, but the difference is what help they are getting from their teammates. When you look at the Heat it seems to be the LeBron show with Wade, Bosh, and Co. struggling mightily; but when you glance at Indiana’s other contributors you see a solid 18 points from their point guard George Hill, a dominating 29 points from Hibbert, and even 13 from David West. There is just a more balanced offensive attack coming from Indiana and now the series shifts to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana. Both of their regular season matchups with the Heat in Indiana resulted in two double-digit Pacer wins. If you ask me at the way this series has gone so far, there is nothing you can show me that can convince me Miami has what it takes to win one game on the road. If Wade and Bosh can regain their form that won them the title last year, then we are talking a whole different ball game, but the fact of the matter now is that they are not. Indiana is here to stay and they have what it takes to knock the defending champs out of this playoff race for good. Stay tuned. -Huberman

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