The Indiana Pacers came away with a big win against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. They jumped all over the Heat early and never looked back, coasting to a 107-96 win. All that is nice, but the Pacers have to come out in Game 2 as if they were down 1-0 in the series to make sure that they take care of their home floor.
While every win is important, the Pacers can’t allow their focus to get clouded by the way that they dominated Miami last night. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade know how to lead their team, and they will be prepared to tie the series up on Tuesday night in Indianapolis. The Pacers played their best basketball game of the past three months, and they need to find a way to duplicate that in Game 2.
One of the biggest keys for the Pacers to their win in Game 1 was their ability to keep the Heat off of the foul line. Miami feeds off of either Wade or James driving to the rim and finishing or getting the call. The Pacers completely took them out of their comfort zone, and made them rely on their three-point shooters way too much. That defense allowed to the Pacers to have a 37-15 advantage of attempts at the foul line.
The Pacers also moved the basketball extremely well and got wide open looks consistently throughout the game. They shot 51.5% combined in the game, and nailed 8-19 from behind the arc as well. There is no doubt that they are capable of playing at a high level again, but they can’t forget what gave them those big numbers.
Indiana’s identity all season long has been to play their offense through the post. In recent months, they have gotten away from doing that and become a more perimeter oriented team. They went down low to West and Hibbert nearly all game in Game 1, and they are going to need to do that once again in Game 2 if they want to go up 2-0.
Overall, it’s going to be a very exciting Game 2 and likely a much closer game. The Heat aren’t concerned about their Game 1 loss, but the Pacers need to come prepared to show them that it wasn’t a fluke. It will be very interesting to see if Indiana learned from their success in Game 1, or if they come out and go back to their old ways.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.