The Pacers should definitely feel like they left a golden opportunity on the table today. They led for most of the first three quarters, were tied heading into the fourth, and trailed 86-85 with 4:50 left in the game. But, from that point, they only scored one point, falling to the heavily favored Miami Heat, 95-86.
It’s always a blown opportunity when you have a chance to win a road game in the playoffs, but don’t. Prospects looked even rosier, when it was announced that Chris Bosh would miss the second half with an abdominal pull. But, that never became a factor.
For that to have mattered, the Pacers would have needed to force Miami consistently to their third option. They did not. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 42 second half points – four more than the Pacers had as a team during that 24 minutes.
Bosh’s injury could prove meaningful, if it lingers, but only if the Pacers defense can figure out a way to at least contain the best player in the league or Dwyane Wade. Today, they couldn’t do either.
The Pacers were whistled for nine more fouls, and shot 10 fewer free throws than the Heat. And while that certainly was advantageous to Miami, and very frustrating at times, I’ll stop well short of saying it changed the game. Even acknowledging that the 50/50 calls skewed heavily towards the home team, there were plenty of other areas the where the Pacers left points and chances on the table.
Indiana’s bigs – David West and Roy Hibbert – played well, combining for 34 points and 23 rebounds. Darren Collison did, as well, and the bench as a whole played at or above the level you need. However, George Hill was spotty, and Danny Granger and Paul George were outright bad.
Taken as a whole, there’s as much to build on from this game as there is to regret. The Pacers were far from perfect, yet still took this game deep into the fourth quarter before succumbing. The blue print is what is what before the game. Indiana must cut down on the turnovers (15), do a better job on the glass at both ends (allowed Miami to get 60% of the rebounds after the half), and they need to get something – anything – from their wings.
It’s always tough to judge from one game, but this didn’t feel like a high water mark for the Pacers. There was no fluky shooting from long range or any stretch of amazing play by Indiana. Mostly, the teams went toe-to-toe, until Miami won.
Vogel and his squad did a good job of learning and adjusting in the first round. Miami is a different beast, but it’s still reasonable to expect the Pacers to get better going forward, and not worse.
At one point today, Vogel supposedly said, “Do what the Mavericks did, only better.” Now, what the Pacers need to do is what they did today…only better.
|David West, PF 37 MIN | 6-12 FG | 5-6 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS |
Great, efficient numbers’ game, but couldn’t generate anything late against Miami’s defensive pressure.
|Danny Granger, SF 39 MIN | 1-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 7 PTS |
Just nowhere near enough, if the Pacers hope to win a game, let alone the series.
|Roy Hibbert, C 28 MIN | 6-12 FG | 5-6 FT | 11 REB | 17 PTS |
Need this kind of performance from him every game the rest of this series, if the Pacers are to have a chance.
|George Hill, SG 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS |
Gave some scoring, but his foul trouble was crippling. His fifth foul was a mindless mistake, and it forced Vogel to go with Darren Collison for too long, which limited DC’s effectiveness just as Miami moved ahead in the fourth.
|Paul George, SG 26 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 6 PTS |
Very, very disappointing performance from PG. Seemed like the game was moving too fast for him. He better catch up fast.
|Leandro Barbosa, SG 23 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-4 FT | 9 PTS |
Attacked offensively, but hurt defensively and, oh, those missed free throws.
|Louis Amundson, C 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 4 REB | 1 BLK | 0 PTS |
Did what he does.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 16 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 1 REB | 8 PTS |
Great first-half stretch, keyed by hitting some jumpers. Second half stint, well, not so good.
|Darren Collison, PG 22 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 AST | 10 PTS |
Continued his strong play this playoffs, but definitely benefits from having his minutes and stints limited. When he goes flat out, he’s very good, but you could see he was gassed early in the fourth, and it hurt.
|Dahntay Jones, SG 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1 REB | 2 PTS |
Some good minutes to cover foul trouble.