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Pacers edge Heat in showdown of East’s top teams

Mar 26, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

The Pacers and the Heat haven’t been playing anywhere near their best basketball as of late, and whether that’s a product of late-season malaise or simply a combination of fatigue and attrition remains to be seen.

Their matchup on Wednesday was largely more of the same, before the fourth quarter began and the competitive fire began to burn until we got an exciting finish that rivaled those that we witnessed during last year’s playoffs.

It was Indiana that managed to execute enough down the stretch to come away with the 84-83 victory, one whose score reflected just how difficult it was for either team to get what they wanted offensively.

LeBron James poured in 38 of his team’s points, and Dwyane Wade was the only other Miami player to finish in double figures. Greg Oden started the game to try to slow Roy Hibbert, but managed to stay on the court for just over six minutes as the Pacers wisely attacked him from the opening tip.

Roy Hibbert scored at will with Oden on the floor, putting in 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the game’s first 12 minutes. Udonis Haslem started the second half in Oden’s place, and logged an unusual 20-plus minutes in the rotation.

The game was largely indicative of the teams’ lackluster play as of late, until the fourth quarter when things took on a bit of a playoff-level intensity.

Lance Stephenson managed to get himself ejected with a little over five minutes to play after a minor talking incident with Wade, but only because it was his second technical of the game. LeBron received a rare flagrant offensive foul for delivering an elbow to Hibbert on a drive to the basket in the fourth, but that was mainly the referees doing everything possible to keep the peace.

Miami had a chance to win it on the final possession, trailing by one with two seconds remaining. The Heat drew up a brilliant play to get an open look, one that saw the ball inbounded to LeBron before he passed to an open Chris Bosh for the game-winning attempt.

Bosh missed the hurried look from 22 feet out, however, and the Pacers came away with the win.

The final 12 minutes were reminiscent of last year’s epic Conference Finals series between these same teams, but honestly, neither is in a place where it can climb to that level of execution. The Pacers and the Heat both have plenty of issues that need to be sorted out before their playoff rematch; one that is not only likely, but is widely expected.

The Heat and the Pacers will play once more before the regular season is finished — April 11 in Miami, just five days before the regular season is finished. Both teams have lots of work to do before then to prepare for the playoff push, but what this game showed is that when these teams battle, they raise their collective level of performance — primarily, because they understand what’s ultimately at stake.

  1. dolphindubs - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    Goddamn cant wait for the playoffs!!!

    Two things…

    One: Birdmans beard is approaching legendary status. The beauty of that thing is beyond compare….

    Two: Lance Stephenson. A single-person double-flop? You flopped off of a Lebron brush and during the backpeddle of that flop you ran into Bosh where you proceeded to flop off the Bosh brush. That thing was artistic. It was epic.

    Again…cant wait for the playoffs!!!

  2. mrhonorama - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    Both offenses looked terrible. Without Allen and Battier, the Heat are far away from their spread-the-floor small ball. Instead, it’s a lot of dribbling on the perimeter for a hero ball shot. The Pacers had some flow when Hibbert was involved in the first half, but in the second half, they stagnated as well. The lack of pace favors the Pacers and it will be interesting to see if a not fully healthy Heat can do anything about it.

    • apkyletexas - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:51 PM

      8 losses in 13 games. Brutal.

  3. bucrightoff - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    The reason I can still very much see LeBron leaving was on display tonight: Only 1 guy, Wade, scored over 8 points besides him. He can’t do every thing himself and it looks like the Heat are gonna need him to do it in the playoffs to win. Heat have absolutely no depth.

    • fanofthegame79 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:03 AM

      I’ve been saying the same thing – I think Bosh had 8 points and no free throw attempts. And Wade had 15… Those shouldn’t be point totals for super stars.

      • borderline1988 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:26 AM

        They need to get Bosh more involved…he’s not just a spot-up 3pt shooter. He’s good and quick enough to get Hibbert into foul trouble. The Pacers team relies too much on Hibbert..get him off the court or not playing well, and the Pacers are toast.

        The Heat should had Bosh attack Hibbert from the opening tip and get some quick fouls

  4. bballhistorian - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    Great game. If Chicago or Brooklyn dont spoil things, this will be the great matchup we are all anticipating.

    • xfactor123 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      If Chicago or Brooklyn don’t spoil things by the team that’s more hungry winning?

  5. 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Very encouraged. The Red Sea had to part for the Pacers to win by one point with Chris Bosh shooting at the buzzer for the win on an open look. The Red Sea might part once. But it ain’t going to part 4 times in 7 games.

    • pphins4life12 - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:52 AM

      Lucky but big three by west.. Also what are the chances Turner scores those two or three baskets in crunch time if wade is guarding him and not Chalmers.. great game nonetheless

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      I see why you no longer want to come here my friend. You’re not alone..

  6. soflasfinest - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    I don’t wanna be that guy buttt the refs were horrible! I’m shocked there wasn’t a fight. The refs had no control of the game.

  7. nflcrimerankingscom - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    LBJ sees Cavs will have more talent than Heat next season.

    • fanofthegame79 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:04 AM

      No, he’s looking at the Knicks thinking that Jackson can pull in some major pieces…and I bet he’d like to play with Melo (someone who scores more than 15 or 8 points in a bigger game).

      • willkill4caffeine - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        I’m not saying it wouldn’t be wildly entertaining to see those two pair up, but my thought process is, why would LBJ want to play with a volume scorer that needs to put up 30 shots a night to get his 35 points? (ok, obv a tad exaggerated, but you get my drift). Carmelo needs far too much of the offense to run through him to be effective. That, at least to me, would seem to clash with what James does best.

      • fanofthegame79 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        I hear you kill4, but I keep thinking of the Olympics and how well Carmelo did as a spot-up shooter and LeBron as the dish man. Obviously, that wouldn’t be their only functions. And we can’t forget how well James and Wade meshed after everyone said they had the same game (which they did, and IMO, caused more problems in their first season than needed to be if they had slighly different games).

  8. 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    Fun game. Love this team. This game was a blessing in disguise. Better off with 2 seed. Let the Pacers have the Nets in rd 2.

    Say it with me, “LET’S GO HEAT!!!!!!”

    • fanofthegame79 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      I’m not so mad about the seeding – because I agree that the #1 seed has a tougher road – but I’d like to see more than 7 victories in the month of March……

    • cantonbound13 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      That was a cowardly comment. Why would “The Greatest Team Ever” be better off with the 2 seed? Are you worried the Heat are 0-3 against the Nets?

      • xfactor123 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:35 AM

        It sure is ironic when “the Heat” are ice cold.

      • fanofthegame79 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        No Canton, because in the years the Heat won the titles (or went to the Finals) they lost the season series against the Celtics and the Bulls, respectively, and still won out in the playoffs agaisnt those teams. I was referring to me and having heartburn due to watching close games!

    • nard100 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      Couldn’t agree more. We’ll take the Bobcats any day of the week in the first round!

  9. gcclark98 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    2 out of 3 aint bad….and miami refs put on a show last year

  10. misterdreamer119 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    I dont get the exodus reference?

    • cantonbound13 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:12 AM

      He’s drunk again

  11. kb2408 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    1. I’m not sure which but one of these two will not make the Conference finals.
    2. If Wade looks old and finished this season how will he look next season?
    3. Greg Oden sure made huge a difference, huh?
    4. The Spurs are clearly the best team in the NBA.
    5. A healthy OKC would beat the Heat and the Pacers…but the Heat would give them a tougher series.
    6. I don’t care what anyone says, KD is the best player in the world. That will be proven in the playoffs this season.
    Goodnight, all, have at me!!

    • toycannoni - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:02 AM

      okc won’t make the finals and whoever does from the west will be worn down….the winner of the east will be your 2014 champs

      terrible officiating….the missed call on wades 3 cost the heat the game….no doubt

      • davidly - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:17 AM

        So that puts the Heat up by one unless you count the phantom whistle that halted the Pacers clear path to the basket in the first half after West’s steal. Then we’re in overtime. But we know momentum after such calls makes it less clear cut than that.

        Who do you think got the benefit of the calls that should have been no-calls? It may not have been pretty, but Indiana won this game more than once tonight.

      • kb2408 - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:23 AM

        LBJ lived at the ft line, so bad calls went both ways. The Western Conf finals might as well be the championship. The Spurs are the best team in the league but OKC gives them trouble. However, I still think the Spurs will prevail. Timmie will get #5 and retire. In all honesty, it should be #6, last year was a gift to the Heatles….thanks to J. Shuttlesworth.

      • kinggw - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:28 AM

        Clear path in the first half, that didnt happen. The ball was still in the backcourt and no one had advance beyond half court.

        Secondly, the Pacers clearly got the benefit of the calls. Not only Wade’s three, the two missed flagrants which would’ve resulted in a tighter called game, and lets not forget West’s blatant hip check that forced Chalmers out of bounds late in the game. The fact that you had to go all the way back to the first half to try and find a call that supposedly benefited the Heat is telling.

      • davidly - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:28 AM

        @kinggw:
        Nothing is telling except that I am willing to see bad calls both ways and you are not. I only mention the first-half call because it was so blatantly obvious (except to you, of course). And you ignored my second paragraph.

        As far as “missed flagrants” go: I grant you that LBJ concealed his flop pretty well on that first play, but not convincingly enough for the refs on either play and certainly not enough to warrant the ridiculous wad of tissue sticking out of his nose, which, naturally, had nothing but snot on it.

    • 00maltliquor - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:41 AM

      No way the Heat and Pacers don’t meet up in the ECF. Sure, both of them are limping into the post season pretty badly, both of them have been terrible as of late, but AIN’T NO ONE *messing* with them. BK, “child please” (in Chad Ochocinco voice), CHI would be the only other team I could see giving any of them a good crack in the LEASTern Conference, but really, they don’t have enough firepower. I really wish they didn’t trade Luol Deng. I really, really wish they didn’t trade him.

      Darkhorses CHA (yeah, I said it!) and TOR, can’t see them taking 4 out of 7 on either of them to save my life. Sorry.

      • casualcommenter - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:42 AM

        Agreed with this. Yeah, both the Heat and the Pacers are limping to the finish line as the best teams in the West are sprinting, which looks bad, but it’s not like much of the East is doing much better.

        Everybody keeps talking about how “hot” the Brooklyn Nets are, yet they’re just 7-3 the past 10 games compared to the Heat being 5-5 and Pacers 6-4. No real difference there. The other East playoff teams are all around 5-5 in their last 10, so nobody East has really gotten “hot.”

        I think teams like the Nets, Bulls, and perhaps the Raptors will put up a good fight, but ultimately, the Heat and Pacers will prevail in series against those teams. The overwhelming evidence from the regular season is that there are only 2 elite Eastern Conference teams.

      • nard100 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        I have to agree with CasualComm. I’ll be rooting for the Heat, but I would be surprised if the champ this year didn’t come out of the west. That being said, Oden is a disappointment. It is obvious is is a shell of his former promise. He looked old and slow. You can see it in his eyes. He knows he can’t compete.

    • pphins4life12 - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:54 AM

      Can’t be the best without a ring son..

  12. prareedoggin - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:21 AM

    Wade makes a 3 and is called out of bounds when he wasn’t, then West makes a 3 after a no call travel. 6 pt difference and Heat lose by 1…. LAME!!!!

    • 00maltliquor - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:47 AM

      Heat still win the +2 spread though! All that matters to me :-D

  13. 1972wasalongtimeago - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:36 AM

    Very easy to blame refs Heat fans but we’re better than that. Remember this when LeBron’s flagrant gets rescinded and the league reclassifies Scola and Mahini’s to flagrantls. Especially given Mahini’s history of cheap shotting LeBron.

  14. sportsfan18 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:43 AM

    The author wrote this..

    “Roy Hibbert scored at will with Oden on the floor, putting in 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the game’s first 12 minutes.”

    That is very deceiving because Oden ONLY played 6 min’s the entire game…

    Oden played from the beginning of the game, the 12 min mark until there was 5:51 left in the first quarter when he was taken out not to return. Those were his 6 min’s of game action tonight.

    Now, Hibbert did shoot 4 of 5 against Oden for 8 points while Oden was in the game.

    Hibbert also made a free throw too for one point but the foul was on Chris Bosh. I didn’t watch the game so I don’t know if Bosh was guarding him or helped out and committed the foul.

    So Hibbert was either 3 of 4 against Oden or 4 of 5 for either 6 or 8 points against Oden (still NOT good mind you).

    Either way, Hibbert did NOT score 13 points against Oden in the games first 12 minutes…

  15. casualcommenter - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    The officiating was terrible. I’m neither a Heat nor Pacers fan, and I don’t much care whether you think the Pacers or Heat were robbed more often than the other.

    The fact is that both teams grew openly frustrated by the incredible inconsistency when it came to fouls. I saw some players get whistled for touch fouls, while other players got away with aggressive grabbing and swatting.

    Missed calls are part of every game, but this game was awful. The referees left all the players confused at the end about what was a foul and what was just incidental contact. The referees would sometimes take a “Let them play” attitude and let players battle, and then, suddenly, they’d start whistling players for ticky-tack fouls off the ball that left both coaches exasperated. This was too high profile of a game to trust referees who were so indecisive.

  16. cantonbound13 - Mar 27, 2014 at 5:19 AM

    The better team won. Get ready for the excuses . Solid game by the big man Bosh Spice, 4 rebounds? Wow! What a factor Oden’s going to be. Amazing acquisition. Riley’s the man!
    Let’s go Pacers!! Hahaha!

    • xfactor123 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      I admit it’s fun to hate on the Heat, but really, why does Bosh look so ineffectual in so many games? Why does a guy that tall live outside the paint? People talk about Lebron leaving but I could easily see Pat Riley replacing Bosh with someon that isn’t afraid to drive to the hoop.

      • Kurt Helin - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        Their system asks him to live outside the paint.

    • nard100 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Yeah you’re right. The better team won… by A point in their HOME floor. It will end up being a pyrrhic victory, because it is starting to look like the west is going take it all this year.

  17. rodge1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    Was a great game, looking forward to the ECF.

  18. indyzown - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    LeBron has to average 40+ to beat the pacers.. and if Wade isn’t healthy it’s over before it starts for Miami.

  19. dexterismyhero - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    Did anyone watch the debacle on the NBA channel after the game. Baron Davis & Rick Fox are absolutely terrible. They should be made to watch that over and over again until they realize themselves how bad they are.

  20. dolphindubs - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    @cantonbound13

    Listen up cowardbound. I dont know what the other commenters basis was for their comment, but I made a similar one months ago that I thought it would be better for Indiana to get the number one seed. Indiana has not had to play with any type of pressure these last couple of years in the playoffs. It’s been all house money. If they get that number one seed, the pressure is all on them to produce. Can they handle that type of pressure? Chicago couldn’t a few years back.

    And Heat fans aren’t worried about anybody. We are smiling the same knowing smile to you guys that Dwyane Wade smiled to Lance Stephenson last night.

    Come playoffs, the Heat will be ready.

    • xfactor123 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      Bobcats in 6.

    • fanofthegame79 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      Agreed – the playoffs are a different beast. And the Heat haven’t looked engaged in this season from the start.

  21. cantonbound13 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Wade can’t even finish a whole game. Your team is far from ready.

  22. cruzan80 - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Neither one of these teams can beat the Spurs 4 times come June. If Thunder get out the West…Heat might have a chance…..depending on the health of Wade….maybe….either way….this year’s champions are gonna reside in either Oklahoma or San Antonio.

  23. rebelcat13 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    Cantonbound! You are the hater of all haters and everybody here knows it! Go troll somewhere else loser!

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