The Miami Heat lost to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night in what can probably be called an upset despite the narrow 78-75 margin of victory. The national media's narrative will likely put the majority of the loss on LeBron James' shoulders for missing free-throws in clutch situations, but the Pacers' simply executed their gameplan better than Miami (and it didn't hurt that Chris Bosh was out, either).
The Heat simply were outplayed, really, as SB Nation's experts will attest to -- both those on the Heat side as well as those in Indiana. Our friends over at Peninsula Is Mightier noted that James' missed free-throws were a big deal, but not the biggest deal when it came down to it.
Critics will immediately jump on LeBron for missing 3 of 4 free throws in the closing minutes of the game, but in truth the Heat wouldn't have had a chance if it wasn't for what he and Wade did to keep the Heat close, who were trailing since the midway point of the third quarter. The team only mustered 14 points in the third quarter with a flat offense that featured little to no ball movement and zero creativity.
SB Nation's Pacers blog, Indy Cornrows, also downplayed the missed free-throws as it instead focused on the defensive effort of the Pacers ... and all-around struggles from the Heat earlier in the game.
Mario Chalmers ended up with the game tying shot, a miss, as time ran out on the Miami Heat comeback, giving the Indiana Pacers a huge satisfying win they desperately tried to give away at numerous points. Even though all of the talking points will revolve around the LeBron James' missed free throws, the third quarter was huge. The Pacers defense deserves credit for this win. It wasn't perfect, but it did a superb job forcing everything through James and Wade (even forcing them into jump shots galore) and effectively shutting down their entire roster.
Indiana played poorly, but got enough from its roster to come away with a win on a night it appeared the Heat couldn't possibly play any worse. The Heat finished up at 35 percent, 1-17 from three-point range, getting 52 of the team's 75 total points from James and Wade. While it doesn't appear the Heat can really play any worse, the good news is that Indiana can continue to wear down those two and hopefully continue to win in the series.
It will be interesting to see where Game 3 of the series is headed and, regardless of the outcome of the series, there's a good chance James and Co. aren't going to want it to be decided by free-throws -- even if that isn't why they lost on Tuesday night.