NBA Playoffs: Indiana Pacers 107, Miami Heat 96

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The Indiana Pacers lost 13 of their final 23 games of the season.

They were taken to seven games by the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks and were three minutes away from elimination in Game 6.

One of their cornerstone players had three scoreless games in four appearances.

The very same team went 44-15 to start the season.

Which team turned up Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis?

With a comfortable lead to defend, the Pacers dictated the tempo throughout the second half and when the Heat closed to within single digits in the fourth quarter, Indiana forced their way to the free-throw line and closed out the game.

The Pacers’ defense had a strong night, though they allowed the Heat to shoot over 50 percent.

Indiana managed to defend without fouling, picking up just 15 whistles, a difficult task against LeBron James’ head-down offense. Dwyane Wade took a team-high three free-throws with nobody else going to the line more than twice.

The Pacers never trailed in the game, leading 20-10 halfway through the first quarter as they settled into a rhythm offensively. Indiana found success from behind the arc, hitting six of their first seven attempts from deep.

Indiana’s impressive clip from behind the arc were symptomatic of the Heat’s worryingly lackadaisical defense. Indiana scored 30 points in the first quarter, their first 30-point quarter of the playoffs.

With the Heat’s perimeter defense compromised, Indiana forced defenders to help off their man, opening up lanes to the rim. The resultant drives allowed Indiana to rack up a plus-22 advantage at the free-throw line.

Miami, despite their porous defense, never trailed by much during the first half. They cut the lead to four, 41-37, midway through the second quarter as their defense finally forced some missed shots, but the Pacers went on a small run to go into halftime ahead 55-45.

LeBron James had 25 points and Dwyane Wade 27, but it was the third member of the big three, Chris Bosh, who had a night to forget. Bosh shot just 4-12 from the field and was 0-5 from behind the line after being a deadly three-point threat in the first two playoffs series.

Paul George led Indiana with 24 points on 7-13 from the field, getting going early with a pair of threes in the first quarter. He would, however, finish with five fouls, one on a LeBron James three-point attempt that led to a four-point play.

The Pacers also used scoring from Roy Hibbert and David West, who combined for 38 points on 13-24 from the floor against Miami’s small frontcourt, to lead by as much as 19 in the third quarter.

The Heat finally went on a run of their own, scoring eight unanswered and eventually pulling within nine points on two separate occasions.

Top Performers:

Indiana Pacers:
Paul George: 24 points, 7-13 FGS, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
Roy Hibbert: 19 points, 5-13 FGS, 9 rebounds, 9-13 FTS
Lance Stephenson: 17 points, 8-12 FGS, 8 assists

Miami Heat:
LeBron James: 25 points, 11-18 FGS, 10 rebounds
Dwyane Wade: 27 points, 12-18 FGS, 4 assists
Chris Anderson: 14 points, 6-7 FGS, 4 rebounds

Game 2 @IND: Tuesday, May 20th, 8:30pm ET

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Tags: Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade George Hill Indiana Pacers Lebron James Miami Heat NBA Playoffs Paul George Roy Hibbert

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