Hard fought game, but in the end LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were too much down the stretch. Final score 87-83, and the Eastern Conference Finals is tied at 1-1. The teams will get 3 days off and play game 3 on Saturday at 8:30pm ET.
The Pacers held a 1-point lead heading in the 4th quarter and led 73-69 with 6:12 left in the game, but Lebron then went to work, hitting a three and two more baskets plus two free throws to give the Heat a 78-75 lead. Wade then took over after that, hitting four straight baskets to put the game out of reach at 86-78 with 21 seconds to go. His last basket, a reverse dunk, came after the Pacers strangely refused to foul and allowed LeBron to shave valuable time off the clock. The Pacers made it interesting by hitting a couple of desperation shots, but the outcome was never in doubt from that point. LeBron finished with 22, Wade 23.
The Pacers wasted a big game from Lance Stephenson, who tied his career playoff high with 25 points (10-17 shooting) plus 6 rebounds and 7 assists. All five Pacers scored in double figures, but Paul George had an awful night being defended by LeBron and failed to take advantage when he was guarded by Ray Allen, finishing with 14 points on 4-16 shooting. He hit some big baskets in the second half but also made some costly turnovers (3) when trapped.
Roy Hibbert was strong, which is always good to see, putting up his first double-double of the postseason with 12 and 12, including an impressive 8 offensive boards. George Hill had 13 points on 9 shots, and David West had 10 on 5-16 shooting, missing a lot of looks he normally makes and was not the same after being scratched on the eye in the fourth quarter. Both West and George need to step up for the Pacers to win one in Miami.
In the end, game 2 was a great game, a war ultimately won by the team with the two best players on the floor. The Pacers had their chances but down the stretch the Heat had the poise and better execution. The Pacers only had four field goals in the last 7 minutes of the game and two of them were after the game was decided. The Heat turned up their pressure D and the Pacers failed to respond, while at the other end a few communication breakdowns gave away easy points for LeBron and Wade.
The Pacers were great on the hustle points tonight but struggled with the added pressure and traps. The offense was nowhere as crisp as it was in game one, with a lot of plays where guys stood around for far too long before ending in a poor shot, but much of the credit has to go to Miami’s defense.
As a team, the Pacers had 10 turnovers, one less than the Heat, but they were made in bigger moments that had greater impacts on the game. The three-point shooting was solid as they finished 9-18, but overall they were at 40%, while the Heat shot 50.7%. The only reason Indiana managed to keep it close was the 16 offensive rebounds (compared to 6 for the Heat).
It would have been good to go up 2-0 in the series, but this Miami team is too good — well, LeBron and Wade are — to let that happen. All the Pacers can do is go back, watch the tape, rest up and come back with a new game plan to adjust to the pressure and traps. These two teams have not won consecutive games against each other for the last 13 games, so there’s reason for optimism even though it will be hard to get a W in Miami.
Couple of other observations:
– Paul George has done a decent job on LeBron on the defensive end, but he needs to get going offensively. It’s about picking his spots — ie, when Ray Allen is guarding him. It’s not that hard to figure out.
– Evan Turner was activated tonight after missing game one with strep throat, but he didn’t play anyway. Rasual Butler filled in again and hit a couple of threes in the second quarter to lead the Pacers bench with 6. I’m still assuming Turner will get minutes in this series, for better or for worse.
– The Pacers traded away some chips to get Luis Scola for this series, but his veteran play hasn’t shone through thus far. He’s hurt the Pacers defensively and failed to make an impact offensively by missing most of his open mid range jumpers. He was 1-6 tonight, with the only make a driving layup. In game one his only basket came on a fast break dunk.
– After the game, Paul George said he played the last 4-5 minutes dizzy after taking a knee to the head from Wade in a scramble for the loose ball. David West had his eye scratched and wasn’t the same after. Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson were both also hobbling after plays towards the end of the game. Hope it’s not serious for any of them.