May 22, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat point guard Norris Cole (30) and Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill (3) battle for a loose ball in overtime of game one of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. The Heat win 103-102. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Game 2 Preview: Indiana Pacers (0-1) at Miami Heat (1-0)

1. How can the Miami Heat improve in Game 2?

I think on some level, the Miami Heat didn’t take the Indiana Pacers as seriously as they should have in Game 1.  For example, when Paul George hit a deep three to tie the game as time expired, LeBron had the chance to close Paul George out, and simply didn’t.  It was almost as if LeBron couldn’t (or didn’t want to) believe that Paul George could possibly hit the game-tying shot.  

If LeBron had closed out, would he have blocked the shot?  No.  
Could he have possibly altered the shot?  Yes.  
When your best player doesn’t close out on a game-tying shot does that say something about your team’s mentality?  Yes.

Hopefully, Game 1 was a wake-up call for the Miami Heat that the Indiana Pacers are a legitimate threat to the Heat’s title aspirations and that they need to do everything possible (even the little things, like, I don’t know, closing out the best player on the opposing team as they are taking the game-tying shot) to ensure victory. 

This is not to say the Heat weren’t intense (just look at their reaction at the end of the game) but that there is a subtle difference between being intense and doing everything you can to win — and the Miami Heat need to do everything they can to win.

2. Should Roy Hibbert have been benched in Game 1?

It is so so so easy to Monday Morning quarterback.  For example, if LeBron had taken a jumper instead of a layup, people wouldn’t be as uproariously anti-Frank Vogel as they are right now.  

I defend Frank Vogel’s decision, partly because Roy Hibbert is less mobile than White Goodman at the end of Dodgeball.  Miami had Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh on the last play.  What ended up happening (I break down the play, literally frame-by-frame) was that Ray Allen’s defender, Sam Young and Chris Bosh’s defender, Tyler Hansbrough (which would have been Hibbert, if he was in) switched — so now Tyler Hansbrough is on Ray Allen and Sam Young is defending Chris Bosh.  

Hansbrough guarding Allen is not as bad a matchup as Hibbert guarding Ray Allen (which is the equivalent of a freight train trying to keep up with a Kawazaki motorcycle).  The final thing is that even if Hibbert was in the game, Ray Allen was standing in the corner during LeBron’s drive, so Hibbert (who would have been guarding Ray Allen after he and Sam Young switched defenders) would have been in the corner, and not in any position to defend LeBron.

3. What is the most important match up for your team?

This series is going to be about rebounds, because there are going to be a ton of missed shots in this series due to a great Pacers defense and a bad Pacers offense.  For example, in Game 1 there was a total of 91 missed shots.  That’s a lot of rebounds, and whichever team can rebound the best (i.e. get those crucial offensive rebounds and corral defensive rebounds) is going to have those vital second-chance opportunities that determine whether one wins or loses a game.

This means that the battle in the paint (Bosh vs. Hibbert) is the most important match up for this team.  Bosh brings a lot to the table (foremost, his ability to be a legit pick-and-pop threat) but he also needs to be tougher in the paint — Bosh only had two (two!!!) rebounds in Game 1.  To put this into perspective, Norris Cole had four rebounds.  

4. Who needs to step up the most tonight?

Dwyane Wade

Don’t get me wrong, Wade played a good Game 1 (other than the minor detail that Wade fouled Paul George on a three-pointer in overtime, which 1. Put the Pacers up by one after George drained all of his free throws 2. Meant Wade had fouled out of the game).  Wade had 19 points on 9-for-15 shooting, six rebounds, and five assists — all good stats — but he needs to prove he can be a consistent second banana to LeBron James, which Wade has not done throughout the playoffs.  Much of it is has to do with his right knee injury, but Wade needs to get off his playoff schneid and perform well every single game for the duration of the playoffs.

5. What are your predictions for tonight’s game?

With the Indiana Pacers reeling from a very tough loss, and the Miami Heat motivated to take a 2-0 lead, the Miami Heat will win Game 2, 84-78.

My bold prediction for tonight is that Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem each score more than 15 points.

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Tags: Eastern Conference Finals Indiana Pacers Miami Heat NBA NBA Playoffs

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