May 18, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
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.
Sep 14, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
“If he wanted to leave, there’s no reason to talk to him about it,” Rubio said.
Sep 14, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Sep 14, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT
The celebration was more entertaining than most of the game.
Sep 14, 2014, 5:18 PM EDT
With the win the USA is automatically qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Sep 14, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Lots of Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston, both of whom left Brooklyn this summer in free agency.
Sep 14, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
It’s a long shot, but he’s at least got his foot in the door somewhere.
Sep 14, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Vonleh will miss all of the preseason, and his new head coach believes that will cost him an early opportunity to enter the rotation.
Sep 14, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
It was obvious that Australia threw the game against Angola to try to avoid Team USA in the tournament for as long as possible.
Sep 14, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Hayward attended training camp, but didn’t make the final cut to be a part of the 12-man roster.
Sep 14, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Anthony can thrive in the triangle — if he moves the ball.
Sep 14, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Serbia looks on paper to be just another speed bump between the USA and gold.
Sep 13, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Rose has averaged 5.4 points per game on 27.3 percent shooting.
Sep 13, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
Grizzlies last team to make a serious run at him.
Sep 13, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Bronze was a quality finish for the defending European champions.
Sep 13, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Read the entire letter from Atlanta’s new CEO, which details plans on how he intends to change the team culture.
Sep 13, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Plenty of Boris Diaw.
Sep 13, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Anthony was very direct in his assessment of the racially insensitive remarks made by the team’s GM and ownership.
Sep 13, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Team USA has won its last three games by an average of 31 points.
Rudy Gay upset over ‘dirty play’ that caused him to suffer a fractured jaw in Team USA’s win over Lithuania
Sep 13, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
DeMarcus Cousins caught an elbow too, and the teams had to be separated once the game was over.
Sep 13, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
All kinds of fun.
- USA celebrates gold medal with lots of dancing (except Derrick Rose) 4
- Too much World Cup MVP Kyrie Irving for Serbia to handle as USA wins gold easily 129-92 16
- FIBA World Cup USA vs. Serbia preview: Serbia no pushover but Americans should grab gold 4
- France beats Lithuania to win World Cup bronze 6
- Carmelo Anthony says nobody would want to play for Hawks 20
- Rudy Gay upset over ‘dirty play’ that caused him to suffer a fractured jaw in Team USA’s win over Lithuania 17
- Serbia holds off furious French comeback, wins to advance to gold medal game vs. USA 4
- Hawks GM Danny Ferry releases statement on his leave of absence, apologizes again 6