In a tightly contested game, the Heat defeated the Pacers, 103-102 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
LeBron James recorded a triple double, going for 10 rebounds and 10 assists, in addition to 30 points, which included the game winning layup as time expired. Dwyane Wade added 17 points, while Chris Bosh and Chris Anderson each chipped in 14.
Paul George led the Pacers with 27 points, including a huge 3 with 0.7 seconds left in the 4th to send the game into OT and then 3 clutch free throws to give the Pacers a 1 point lead with 2.2 seconds left in OT. David West added and Roy Hibbert contributed 19.
Close, gritty, and physical, this game was everything we expected to be. Both teams started the game sloppy, committing 25 turnovers in the first half. They settled down in the second half, and the game remained tight through out. The Pacers won the battle on the glass, grabbing 43 rebounds, to Miami’s 38. But committing 20 turnovers will almost always hurt Indiana more than Miami, and that proved true in Game 1. The turning point in this game, however, came when Pacers coach Frank Vogel took Hibbert out of the game to match the Heat’s small ball lineup. Doing so allowed James to have driving lanes with worrying about a shot blocker in front of the rim.
The Pacers never stopped coming, and showed the Heat that this series will be no walkthrough. But in the end, King James was just too much. James seemed to be regressing to his former self, with a bunch of missed shots, silly fouls, and bad turnovers as the game wore down. But he scored the 4 most important points for the Heat down the stretch. Two big time layups, one over George Hill to give the Heat the lead, and then the game winner.
If any of the remaining games are anything like this, we will be in for a classic series.