May 13, 2012, 6:45 PM EDT
After the 1st half of Game 1 of the Pacers-Heat series, things did not look good for the defending conference champions. Miami couldn’t get anything going offensively, Roy Hibbert was beating them up inside, and Indiana was moving the ball crisply to get good looks. Miami was able to keep the game close thanks to Indiana’s foul problems, but the Heat were clearly getting outplayed.
To make matters even worse, Chris Bosh, who had the best 1st half of any of the big 3, was forced to leave the game after he strained his abdominal while dunking and getting fouled.
The only way for the Heat to turn things around in the second half was to have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Bosh’s replacements step up, and that’s exactly what happened. James remembered that he’s a 3-time MVP in the second quarter, and started absolutely destroying the Pacers with tough drives to the hoop, pinpoint passes, some midrange jumpers, absolutely great work on the glass, and flat-out suffocating defense on Danny Granger, who finished the game with 7 points on 1-10 shooting from the field.
Wade was relentless as well — his shot wasn’t really falling for him on Sunday, and he didn’t grab a single rebound, but he went to the line seven times and made 13 of his 14 free throws, which helped the Heat get in the bonus while keeping the Pacers in foul trouble for the vast majority of the game.
What may have been even more important for the Heat was the play of Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf, who have both spent considerable portions of this season out of the rotation entirely. With Bosh injured and Udonis Haslem completely ineffective, Miami’s high-energy bigs stepped up and saved the game for Miami. Even though Indiana came into the game with a significant size advantage, Miami outscored the Pacers 52-40 in the painted area on Sunday, and somehow grabbed 15 offensive rebounds while Indiana managed to grab only 30 defensive boards. On top of that, Turiaf and Anthony actually managed to make an impact offensively, finding seams in the basket and catching and dunking when the opportunities were there.
This is going to be a tough one for Indiana to take — they led for much of the way, and had a tie game coming into the fourth quarter, but missed a rare opportunity to steal a game on the road from a team as good as the Heat.
On Miami’s side of things, they have to be hoping that Chris Bosh can get back to 100% as soon as possible. LeBron and Wade going into overdrive in the 2nd half and Turiaf and Anthony having great games saved the Heat in Game 1, but the Heat will need Bosh going forward, especially if their secondary perimeter players continue to do as badly as they did on Sunday. The Heat should be happy with this win, but they should also be very nervous about the health of the 3rd member of their all-important “big three.”