After questionable play in their first two series, the Indiana Pacers showed up in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals and pulled off a wire-to-wire win against the Miami Heat. Indiana played well overall on offense, shooting 8-19 from three-point range and beating up Miami in the post. Indiana also shot 37 free throws, while Miami had only 15.
David West, a low-key threat for the Pacers, had the challenge of being defended by Lebron James. He kind of shot 6 of 7 from the field, most of those in the paint. Lebron commented on West’s performance, “He’s one of few guys that are possibly stronger than men, I’m more of a perimeter defender. I can do a lot of things, but I prefer to play perimeter D.” It will be interesting to see how Game Two pans out.
A big factor concerning this series is the point guard matchup, Indiana’s George Hill and Miami’s Mario Chalmers. Chalmers has been entrusted with the starting point guard role for the past three years and has been a big part of the past two championships. However, in Game One, George Hill showed out.
During the regular season against Miami (four games), Hill struggled to get anything going offensively. He was essentially a non-factor, averaging 3.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in those contests. Apparently the big stage was what the IUPUI product needed. He was the catalyst of Indianaâ€™s hot first-quarter start, draining three treys in the first 12 minutes of action. He finished with 15 points and got to the charity stripe six times.
Mario Chalmers, The 28-year-old out of Kansas finished with six points on 2-of-9 shooting (1-of-4 from long range). He did have five assists, but that was somewhat negated by four personal fouls and poor defense on Hill. Indyâ€™s point guard won the positional battle in Game 1, which gave his team the edge. Chalmers needs to pick up his teammates by knocking down shots and playing smart on the defensive end
While Lebron and Dwyane Wade scored 52 points and shot 23 of 36 from the field, there wasn’t much production from the rest of the team. Chris Bosh shot only 4 of 12, and the team as a whole shot an abysmal 6 of 23 from three point range. Outside of the dynamic duo, the rest of the team scored just 44 points. Not only was the offense ineffective, Miami’s defense was poor. Former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson returned to the ESPN broadcast booth to point out a variety of Miamiâ€™s flawsâ€”poor defensive rotations, leaving defensive assignments at inopportune times and losing guys on back cuts to the rim. When the Heat watch the film of Game 1, theyâ€™re not going to be pleased.
Erik Spoelstra knows how to inspire his crew, though. So expect the defensive intensity to return with a flurry in Game 2. If it doesnâ€™t, James, Wade and Co. could return to South Beach down 0-2.
Assuming that Indy falls back down to earth offensively, while Miami shoots better than a dreadful 26.1 percent from three, I get the sense that the Spoelstraâ€™s squad is poised to knot this series. They do not want to head home down 0-2, which gives them extra motivation to steal one away from their home floor.
Add the Pacersâ€™ rampant inconsistency to the mix, as well as the fact that Bosh rarely has two poor outings in a row. Simply put, Iâ€™d be surprised if Miami didnâ€™t take care of business with its back against the wall.
Prediction: Heat defeat Pacers 101-93
- Justin Hodges is a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.comÂ