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Heat Steal Game 1 From Pacers on LeBron Buzzer Beater

LeBron game-winner

Many correctly picked the Miami Heat to win game one of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, but they didn’t think it would come down to late-game heroics.

The Heat – a team that has spent most of its postseason resting after demolishing opponents – had to grind out a 103-102 overtime win against the Pacers on Wednesday night. When faced with adversity – which they haven’t faced much of this year – they once again leaned on the league’s MVP, LeBron James, who scored two of his game-high 30 points on a game-winning layup as time expired in the extra period.

“Two teams fought hard,” James said, according to ESPN.com. “We were able to make one more play.”

The fact is, James made plenty of big plays to help his team win, but only one of them came with seconds to go. He recorded his ninth career postseason triple-double on Wednesday, adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists to his 30 points.

Indiana’s star player and leader, Paul George, stepped up on the big stage of the East finals as well. George led his squad with 27 points and even hit a 32-footer with 0.7 seconds left in regulation, which was the reason the Pacers went to overtime with the Heat in the first place.

“Welcome to the Eastern Conference finals,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Back and forth the whole way.”

Spoelstra, who is one of the NBA’s youngest head coaches, happens to be one of the most experienced in these types of big playoff games. Indiana’s Frank Vogel is notably less experienced and it showed on the last play of the game.

Vogel chose to leave Roy Hibbert – Indiana’s best interior defender and the man who rejected Carmelo Anthony’s dunk attempt late in game six of the previous series – on the bench, which resulted in an uncontested look at the rim for James, who glided in for the winning score.

“I would say we would probably have him in next time,” Vogel said.

Unfortunately, against the Heat, you don’t get that many chances to win games. Still, it’s hard to write the Pacers off – though many will. They took Miami down to the wire on the road, proving that they do belong with the East’s best.

But can the Pacers rebound in game two? They certainly can, but considering the Heat weren’t at their best either in game one, bounding back will be difficult. The Heat mustered more than 100 points, while turning the ball over 20 times and only connecting on five of 18 three-point attempts.

Indiana sure showed one thing. They are a far more formidable opponent than any team Miami has faced in the playoffs so far and they are definitely better than the +8.5 line they were given in game one. That line is likely to change for game two, but expect it to still hover somewhere between six and seven points in favor of the defending champs.

On that line, I like the Pacers. They’ve shown they can hang tough with the Heat and after coming oh-so-close to victory, they’ll be driven to play that much harder. It’s not that they need any more motivation; the stakes are high enough, but they should be able to learn from their mistakes and improve as the series wears on. But make no mistake, this is the Heat’s series to lose. If Miami plays the way they are capable of playing, no one will be able to stop them.



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