Indiana sets the pace, winning game one of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals over the Miami Heat 107-96.
After narrowly avoiding disaster against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, and losing game one to the Wizards in the 2nd round, the Pacers have all of a sudden won 5 of 6 and are back to playing the way everyone expected.
Paul George led the way for Indiana scoring 24 points, David West had 19 to go with 7 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson added 17 points as well as a team high 8 assists.
The key though, was the play of Roy Hibbert who’s back to looking like a basketball player. Hibbert scored 19 points, hauled in 9 rebounds, and had a game best +19. Indiana is now 6-0 in the playoffs when Hibbert scores in double figures. The Pacers out-rebounded the Heat 38-29, something that’s going to have to continue if Indiana is going to win this series.
For the Heat, Dwyane Wade scored a game high 27 points, LeBron James had 25, and Chris Anderson provided a nice spark off the bench scoring 14 points on 6/7 shooting. James however, took just 2 free throws. Aside from James, Wade, and Anderson, no one else on Miami stepped up.
Mario Chalmers’ struggles persisted. Chalmers scored just 6 points on 2/9 shooting. His only memorable play of the game was shoving C.J. Watson to the ground as he was going up for a lay-up early in the 4th quarter.
Chris Bosh, who was so clutch in Miami’s last series against the Nets, missed all 5 of his 3-point attempts, and shot 4/12 from the field for 9 points. Shane Battier was quiet as well contributing 3 points in 16 minutes. Miami had its worst 3-point shooting game of the playoffs missing 17 of 23 shots from deep.
Indiana came out on fire scoring 30 first quarter points, and had a 10-point lead at half-time. In the 2nd half, the Pacers led by as many as 18 points, and played in cruise control for the most part.
The Pacers will look to take a 2-0 series lead when these teams meet again on Tuesday night.