Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals is in the books, and the Pacers beat the Heat 107-96. It was a shootout that everyone expected it to be.
Wait, nobody expected that.
Let’s see what we took away from the game that might help give a better idea of what happened.
Things that pleased me: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 52 points, on 23/36 shooting (64%). That’s really good. It’s nice to see Wade come right out and make his presence felt early in the series. The Pacers are going to focus on LeBron, so Wade needs to take some of the pressure off him. This was a good start.
When you can get that kind of production from your top two scorers, you’re going to be alright. Problem is…
Things that annoyed me: …Chris Bosh was 4/12, for 9 points. I’m going to guess that there is a firestorm against Bosh on South Florida radio airwaves. It’s been a while since Bosh has been traded for Omer Asik or whatever else people can think of. I missed that segment of the fanbase.
Bosh wasn’t very good. But it was an aberration. I do think he has fallen in love with the 3, and that’s a shot the Pacers will live with him shooting. It’s the 18-footer that Indy will respect. He was 2/4 on jumpers outside the paint, but inside the arc. I feel Bosh needs to establish that.
Things that perplexed me: Miami outscored Indiana 54-38 in the paint, 21-6 on the fast break, and had a 26-13 scoring advantage from the bench.
The Heat lost by 11. Huh?
Yes, Indiana took more than double the free throws (37 to 15). However, as I said on Twitter (*Insert Mick Foley thumbs up*), the Pacers were doing un-Pacers-like things: passing and scoring. Indiana had 23 assists, which is tied for their best production of the postseason. They shot 51% in Game 1, up from 44% in the first 2 rounds. Indy made shots.
Scale of 1-to-10, How badly did you want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers?: Solid 9. Chalmers is going to continue doing “Chalmers” things on offense. That consists of driving to the basket without a goal in mind or taking 3’s that he probably shouldn’t. He thinks he’s better than he really is and that’s the kind of guy you need on your team. It’s his bone-headed risks on defense that unravels him. He tries to bump opposing players as they dribble up court, and usually gets called for a foul. But things like that flagrant/technical foul sequence was just absurdly absurd (yes, I did that). Whether it was a flagrant or not, Chalmers needs to keep his emotions in check.
What we learned: Occasionally, the Pacers can do things offensively. They are the 1-seed that has been shredded by the media for weeks, so to expect Indiana to not come out swinging is ridiculous. Indy needed this game. Losing Game 1 at home to the team that they’ve made a point of wanting to face would have been deflating.
Panic meter: 0.5. Erik Spoelstra probably sat in the darkness clutching the stat sheet from Game 1. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he’ll address the defensive short-comings. The Heat lost Game 1 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, in Chicago. They also lost Game 1 of the 2012 Finals, in Oklahoma City. I think Heat fans remember the results. This team has been punched in the mouth before. Now is when they get up and punch back.
This is going to be a fun series.