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Pacers look like the East’s best team in blowout Game 1 win over Heat

May 18, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

LeBron James, David West LeBron James, David West

From the moment the season began in late October, or perhaps even as far back as their Conference Finals loss in seven games to the Heat last May, the goal for the Pacers was simple: Finish this year with the best record in the league, so that homecourt advantage could be on Indiana’s side this time.

Despite the struggles that plagued the Pacers the last two months of the season and into the first two rounds of the playoffs, now that they’re here in the Eastern Conference Finals, they seem to have remembered what it was all for, and at least for one game, regained their swagger.

Indiana controlled Game 1 from the opening tip, and looked like the East’s best team in cruising to a 107-96 victory that felt like anything but the titanic battle many were expecting.

The Pacers were several steps ahead of the Heat in this one, and whether it was due to Indiana finally reaching the moment the team has waited for all season long, or because Miami has yet to truly be tested in these playoffs, the result was lopsided just the same. The Pacers aren’t a great team offensively, but they used an aggressive George Hill to initiate things, and moved the ball with precision to create a balanced attack that saw six players finish in double figures scoring.

Miami’s rotations were slow from the jump, and the Pacers took advantage by shooting better than 60 percent for most of the first half, while knocking down six of their nine attempts from three-point distance through the first two periods.

There isn’t any one player responsible for the loss on the Heat side, as the team defense that has historically played on a string looked more like it was being attempted by a group of players who were on the court together for the very first time. But with that being said, Miami can’t afford many more games like this out of Chris Bosh, who normally provides a backbone for the Heat, but who was exceptionally dismal in this one.

Bosh missed his first two attempts from three-point distance, then was hesitant to pull the trigger on some open looks early — a level of tentativeness that extended to the defensive end of the floor, and one that is extremely uncharacteristic. Bosh finished 4-of-12 from the field, in a game where the Heat were collectively able to shoot better than 51 percent.

Meanwhile, for the Pacers, Lance Stephenson was focused and under control, David West and Paul George were efficient in combining for a 15-of-24 shooting effort, and Roy Hibbert was active as he had been for much of the series against the Wizards, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds in almost 39 minutes of action.

It’s only one game, of course, but the Pacers accomplished everything they set out to against the defending champs when their season ended in Miami last year. The biggest problem facing Indiana has been a lack of consistency, and that’s sure to be tested against a motivated Heat team in Game 2 that will look to come out with much more intensity to try to gain a split of the first two games in the series.

155 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. golfrangeman - May 18, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    So kb2408 we noticed you weren’t around when the heat took care of Brooklyn in 5, remember how Brooklyn was going to shock the world (wrong again). Now that the pacers won one game it’s time to mouth off,at least anti has the guts to log on when his team losses. Bye the way tell us again where your lakers are.

    • cantonbound13 - May 18, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      Heat “fans” should be the last to mock other fans. You bandwagon fans don’t even stick around for game 6 of the Finals.

  2. tmdill18 - May 18, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    The Pacers defense didn’t get shredded. It was a half court game. Exactly what the Pacers want. As far as the continual ranting about the Pacers exceeding their average FG %, there is an obvious reason for that. The Pacers exploited the Miami traps. They Pacers FG % will not revert to the mean as long as they continue getting wide open looks. Any NBA team will make those shots. I expect they will do it more in this series. The Heat have to double team and trap because of the mismatches favoring,the Pacers. That means great looks for the Pacers, a higher than avg FG %, and Heat fouls because they are chasing shooters and trailing plays.

    • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      They gave up 51% shooting when they would typically allow something 10 percentage points lower than that. For IND, that amounts to getting shredded. Normally they would lose a game where they gave up 96 points on 51.3% shooting.

      The Pacers offense is so sketchy that they’re liable to shoot 37% even against bad defenses, wide open looks or not.

  3. jasper36 - May 18, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    The Pacers shot 37 Freethrows to the Heat 15 Freethrows. They would have looked like the better team against the Monsters from Space Jam with those numbers.

  4. newyorkball82 - May 18, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Anti is a Lebron lover. He will make any point or stat work out in his favor. Not realizing that a lot of these things are subjective. From a Miami heat standpoint things looked differently than from a “non fan” watching the game. Miami fans are used to winning because most of them started liking them only a few years ago. They can’t fathom a loss or losing in a series. It’s not possible for them, tonight showed it is 100% a reality. This has happened in the past with OKC, but OKC was VERY inexperienced at the time. This game was a complete domination. I held back before but I’m just gonna say it. Miami got destroyed today. Even when Indiana looked vulnerable and their % was down to 35, they still dominated. They dominated 100%. They controlled the paint which is probably why their % was so high to start. They let the heat have the easy shots (the alley oops to Anderson). They let Lebron drive in and have the easy lay ups. Their defense swarmed and frustrated the heat and Watson looked like an all star. Charmers should’ve been kicked out of the game…. They got beat, period, and it was not a fluke at all.

    • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      They always work out in my favor because I know what I’m talking about. I may be a LeBron fan but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

      The Pacers simply cannot win the series playing this type of game. They shot unusually well, but they let Miami score 96 points and shoot 51% on their home court. That is kind of ominous.

      Now we know what Miami can do offensively – they can duplicate or better this type of offensive performance. But the Pacers offense is a completely different story; they can easily shoot 34% next game and no one would be surprised.

      • mrhonorama - May 18, 2014 at 9:39 PM

        You know, the converse could be true — the Heat scored 96 points on 51% shooting against the vaunted Pacers defense…and lost. I’m certain that the Pacers can’t continue at this pace, and I also think that Miami will not be having a bunch of 50%+ from the field games in this series. Thus, I think this game tells us nothing much.

      • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        The Pacers defense hasn’t been as “vaunted” lately – so that’s not really a surprise.

        The Heat are going to have multiple 50%+ shooting games in this series. That’s just what’s going to happen when your top 3 scorers are shooting 56%, 51% and 50% in these playoffs (57%, 54%, 51% on the year).

  5. cantonbound13 - May 18, 2014 at 8:53 PM

    Where’s Leahachima? The bandwagon jumping starting early this year.

  6. tmdill18 - May 18, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Guarantee you the Pacers will not shoot 34% as long as the Heat keep,trapping. It was lay ups, dunks, and wide open looks. Based upon your idiotic reverting to the mean theory, if there was no defense on the court, the Pacers will still revert to their FG % mean. That’s ridiculous.

    • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 9:13 PM

      The Heat can not even take the floor at all and the Pacers are still liable to shoot 40%.

  7. newyorkball82 - May 18, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    If I’m not mistaken, the heat were actually shooting a higher percentage in the first half and… Still losing. The heat did not play a bad game. They played a pretty good game actually. They just got dominated and that’s all there is to it. No what ifs, no if the game went to 6 quarters. It’s funny because anytime a non Miami heat fan brings up “what ifs” the heat fans shoot them down. What if ray Allen didnt hit that three last year in game six? What if Brooklyn held the lead in the last two games against the heat? The Heat got beat, and they got beat badly. What if they have a bad shooting game in game two or three? What if indy’s defense is just warming up?

    • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      The Heat shot 52.6% in the first, 47.4% in the second, 55.0% in the third and 50.0% in the fourth. They are going to shoot about 50% regardless of what is in front of them – they’re just too good on offense.

      The Pacers are going to have a tough time trying to match that every single game. Most teams would. The only team that probably can is the San Antonio Spurs.

  8. tmdill18 - May 18, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    You are showing ignorance. Any monkey can look up stats. You are a play station phenom. Haven’t seen a single basketball observation. That’s all you got? pacer FG % will revert to the mean. Brilliant.

    • antistratfordian - May 19, 2014 at 3:25 AM

      They are all basketball observations. Nothing that I’ve said isn’t true.

  9. themagicfanguy - May 18, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    @anti You have no idea what you’re talking about. You say that it’s impossible for the Pacers to maintain this offense because on average their offense isn’t this good, but won’t acknowledge that their defense is better than tonight on average as well.By your logic if the Pacers are bound to perform worse on offense, then they are also bound to perform better on defense. It’s called being a homer, and you’re doing great at it.
    Basketball is a game of matchups, not averages. If you do nothing but bet on points per game then you will lose money constantly. Funny how you dumb you sound for someone who claims to know what they’re talking about.

    • antistratfordian - May 19, 2014 at 3:39 AM

      Well for one thing, they are not “bound” to perform better on defense, because they have been getting torched on defense by far worse offenses. How can anybody reasonably expect the Pacers to hold Miami’s offense at bay when they could barely deal with Atlanta’s? They couldn’t prevent Miami from shooting 51% in this game and the Heat weren’t even playing that well. If they struggled against those teams, what do you think is going to happen in the future against Miami?

      Basketball is not just a game of matchups – it is a game of matchups, averages, statistics, feel, experience, etc. Everything that can be observed and considered, should be. One must use all of these points of reference to come to a conclusion, and I consider all of them simultaneously. So it isn’t just about matchups – or “styles make fights” as they say. “They” also say, “the past is the best predictor of the future” (or “the past is prologue”) – which is why it is salient to bring up how the Pacers have performed in the past, especially the recent past. But you don’t seem to like what I have to say when I do that, because you don’t like what I’m saying – afraid to admit that it’s probably true, perhaps?

      Now, after the series is over you will have to apologize to me for calling me dumb when you realize how wrong you were.

      • john242322 - May 19, 2014 at 10:37 AM

        When you were listing what the game of basketball is – you forgot to include your bias opinion* in there bc that’s all I see you write about…

        We can all throw out statistics that make our team seem superior. Fact of the matter is your Heat team got smashed last night, plain and simple. Pacers looked far better. This is a “here and now league,” and right now, your team got whooped. Accept it and move on

      • antistratfordian - May 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        An opinion is valid – even if its a biased one. Being biased doesn’t mean you’re wrong or right – it just means you’re leaning in one direction, which could be the right direction. And I’m always biased towards truth.

        And btw, I predicted the Heat to lose Game 1 – so that whole thing about “your team got smashed!” is not going to work on me.

  10. themagicfanguy - May 18, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Hasn’t been as vaunted? Is that why they’re #2 in PPG against, #1 in fg% against, and allowing less than 90 points a game in the postseason? Oh yeah, you REALLY know what you’re talking about lmao.

    • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 10:28 PM

      Perhaps you’ve forgotten about how they allowed a mediocre offense to drop 107 and 101 points on them in the first round, and another mediocre offense to drop 102 twice on them in the 2nd round, even once at home. Their defense has seen better days.

      • savvybynature - May 18, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        And perhaps you’ve forgotten how they held the Wiz to 63 points in an entire playoff game in Washington!
        See, anyone can cherry pick stats to make their point. The fact is, the Pacers have played the best defense, statistically speaking, in the entire (L)Eastern Conference over the course of these playoffs.

      • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        They didn’t necessarily “hold” the Wizards to 63 points. Both teams couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean in that game – wide open looks were bricked. That was one of the ugliest games anyone has ever seen.

        In any case, they still let the Wizards shred them up after that. Their defense isn’t as consistent as it used to be, and we saw that again today.

  11. newyorkball82 - May 18, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    The heat were flat today? In what way? They shot 51%… How is that flat. No Miami fans can believe it. They cannot wrap their brain around the fact that their team got beat. Stats are irrelevant now. This is the playoffs. The regular season is over and so are those last two series that each team played in. Today was like the start of a new season. Lebron had 25 points and wade had a great game for his modern standards. What more do you want out of this team? The law of averages does not favor Lebron having another 50 point game. That’s what they would’ve needed to win this game. Good luck in the next one.

    • casualcommenter - May 19, 2014 at 12:24 AM

      Agreed. The Heat weren’t flat, and their offense was pretty good aside from being cold from 3. The real issue is that they just didn’t play good individual defense. LeBron himself in his post-game conference said he was personally to blame for several breakdowns in the Heat’s pick and roll coverage.

      The Heat aren’t stupid, and there’s no “coasting” in the Conference Finals. The Heat did their best and came up a bit short. Credit goes to the Pacers for making their open looks, maintaining good ball movement, and shutting down everyone not named LeBron, Wade, or Andersen.

  12. 25yearindyfan - May 18, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    Both teams are 7-2 in their last 9. Going to be a great series.

    • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 10:31 PM

      The Pacers have already lost 5 games in the playoffs. The Heat will probably only lose 4 games total in this postseason.

      • savvybynature - May 18, 2014 at 11:26 PM

        Don’t kid yourself, the Heat might lose 4 games in this series. Anything can happen until the games are played.

      • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 11:33 PM

        The world could end in the next 5 minutes, but that’s not going to happen either.

        Talk about “kidding yourself”… think about these Pacers – think about who they are and what they’ve done in the last, say, four months. Or just think about what they’ve done in the last 4 weeks. And then take a look at who they’re up against.

        If anybody is kidding themselves it’s Pacers supporters.

      • ddogdaddy - May 19, 2014 at 12:51 AM

        While the Pacers were playing their worst during the last couple of months of the season you would have to think the Heat would over take them to regain the #1 seed in the East. Except that didn’t happen did it? How is that possible?

      • antistratfordian - May 19, 2014 at 1:01 AM

        They did overtake them to regain the #1 seed in the East. Don’t you remember? They beat them on April 11th, had the #1 seed. They secured themselves as the top seed in the East in the minds of, well, everybody. They lost their last 3 games, but they rested LeBron and Bosh for two of them, so their work was done.

  13. newyorkball82 - May 18, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Yup, the pacers are done. You have proven all points to back this up, without room for debate. Lebron is the best ever, and even when he has a bad game it’s usually good in some way. Is there really a need for these finals? Just give the trophy to the heat already. Actually I think they won today… This series is over. I say a sweep by the heat. The stats say it all.

    • antistratfordian - May 18, 2014 at 11:27 PM

      I think you’re overreacting. There is room for debate – you can say whatever you want – but if part of your argument involves something about the Pacers offense keeping up with Miami’s then it’s going to be dismissed; and not just by me, but by everybody else as well.

      Miami is the better and more consistent team with the better and more consistent players. They should win. I’m sure you agree with that.

  14. bballhistorian - May 18, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    TAKE A SNAPSHOT OF THIS RIGHT HERE…and say I TOLD YOU SO:

    Indy wins Game 2
    Miami wins remaining 4.
    Miami in 6.

  15. newyorkball82 - May 18, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Miami in 3

  16. themagicfanguy - May 18, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    So you point point one or two games? Did you not see what they AVERAGE for this postseason on defense? You seem to think PPG and averages is such a big deal for the Heat and as a negative for the Pacers, then when an average goes for Indy suddenly it’s “yeah but in that one game”. Give me a break.

  17. money2long - May 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Anti is on a holy war against pretty much every comment comment.
    The fact he is doing this shows how much this loss affected him.

  18. cwilson6843 - May 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Good game. This is gonna be a great series like last year. But you guys don’t be so quick to count out Miami, they proved you wrong for a while. This is a true rivalry, 2 teams that hate each other. Don’t expect anything less than a dogfight. That being said, heat in 7

  19. dbfan4ever - May 18, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    Hey heat fans the sky is falling! Pacers with the ECF sweep!

  20. sdlakerfan - May 19, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Great effort by the Pacers and I’m rooting hard for someone to knock off Miami. Great to see them get their form back. Keys to this victory were doing a pretty good job keeping Lebron away from the rim. Bosh didn’t show up and make them pay for having Hibbert guarding him. Pacers shot well. Hibbert was a beast. Pacers handled Miami’s defense well and made them pay for needing to help.

    But…this was like a game 7 for Pacers…needed this game badly. They can’t keep Lebron away from the rim for the whole series. Bosh will eventually show up. Like others said, Miami didn’t play a bad game.

    Miami is a great team and will be very difficult to beat. Hope not but guessing Miami in 7. Next game is huge and Pacers certainly won’t win it by double figures. Best playoff game so far. The playoff series we’ve all been waiting for is here.

  21. newyorkball82 - May 19, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    The old “I knew the heat would lose game one routine”.

  22. newyorkball82 - May 19, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    How can one predict a game one loss when statistically speaking the heat shouldn’t have lost? They, statistically speaking, don’t allow what they just allowed in that game. How can you honestly say you predicted them to lose that game when you rely so much on averages. They lost both first games to the hawks and the wizards, but you somehow knew they would win this game? You sir, are a walking contradiction. I can guarantee that if this series goes 7 you will change your disposition and say you knew it would.

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