Miami will attempt to defend home court as they meet the Pacers tonight at 7 P.M Eastern. Miami won game 1 by 9 points, 95-86.
Unfortunately, Chris Bosh left the game in the 2nd quarter with an abdominal strain, and it is still unclear if he will return to action in this series. Up until Bosh picked up the unfortunate injury, he was the best player on the court for Miami, as James and Wade struggled in the initial quarters. Miami were looking a bit sloppy, missing shots and turning the ball over. It all seemed to change the minute Bosh went down.
Up until the 3rd quarter Indiana were in firm control, and it looked like the game would go down to the wire as the Pacers held a 6 point edge at the half. James and Wade came out in attack mode in the 3rd, picking up the slack in the absence of Bosh. They were both very aggressive, and Indiana simply didn’t have an answer. Wade scored 29 and dished out 4 assists, while James once again finished with MVP numbers – 32 points 15 rebounds 5 assists and 2 steals. However, probably the most important stat to look at is the free throw attempts by Wade and James. They combined for 21-24 from the free throw line, while Indiana managed 28 free throw attempts collectively.
So what will this game look like, now that Bosh is out? Well, the height advantage of the Pacers will further increase. Bosh is a lethal offensive threat in Miami’s half court sets, and his absence will be felt on both ends of the floor. Anthony and Turiaf managed to step up last game, combining for 13 points and 10 boards. Anthony is most likely going to start, with Turiaf also getting more minutes. With Bosh out, other players might find minutes in the rotation as well. James and Wade will obviously play more minutes, but James will probably play quite a bit of 4, so James Jones and Norris Cole might get some minutes.
Keys to the game
Indiana got a lot of contribution from their bench in game 1, while Danny Granger and Paul George had a game they would rather forget. They both combined for 2-15 shooting, scoring 13 points. To be able to win this game, both George and Granger have to shoot the ball better. I predicted Danny Granger to have a tough series, facing the defense of James and Battier, but he is still capable of shooting better than 1-10. Pacers will need to feed the ball down low even more in this game, as Hibbert and West were both key figures in game 1, scoring 17 each and together grabbing 23 rebounds. Expect to see Granger, Hibbert and West posting up early and often.
Can Indiana stay out of foul trouble? Indiana is one of the most fouling teams in the league, but the foul trouble really hurt them in game 1. Hill picked up his 5th with 7 minutes to go in the 3rd, while Hibbert got a lucky call to not foul out mid-way through the 4th.
If Heat want to win, everyone will have to pick up the slack with Bosh out. Anthony has to hustle like he always does, Turiaf needs to contribute a couple of points, and the perimeter shooting has to be better (0-6 three pointers in game 1). James and Wade will play major minutes, and they will need to bring the relentless aggression they showed in the 2nd half of game 1. Attacking the basket will be key, as Heat want to force Hibbert into early foul trouble.