The Miami Heat squeezed out a victory in Game 1 after LeBron James hit a game-winning layup in overtime. Game 2 is Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT and has quite a bit to live up to after the instant classic the Indiana Pacers and Heat put on to open the Eastern Conference finals.
The Pacers, ever so close to victory, wound up losing to James' brilliance. The 2013 NBA Most Valuable Player propelled his team to victory with his 30-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double effort. The Pacers focused their efforts on cutting James' dribble penetration off with both Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi, but it wasn't enough once the game had concluded.
The story after the game has been the benching of Hibbert on the final play, which Mike Prada concluded probably would not have made a difference either way. Regardless, how Pacers head coach Frank Vogel adjusts his rotations after watching James finish at the rim without any defender challenging him will be one of the three keys going into Game 2.
The Pacers' turnovers
One of Indiana's biggest problems as a team on offense is the amount of turnovers they commit. In Game 1 they gave up 20 turnovers that Miami converted into 18 points. Indiana must take care of the ball to stake their claim amongst the NBA's elite teams. Unfortunately being turnover prone has been a trend for Indiana, as they've averaged 16.2 turnovers per game through the playoffs after committing a turnover on 14.3 percent of their offensive possessions through the regular season (27th out of 30). Indiana's offense will have trouble scoring against a swarming Heat defense, but turning it over without even getting a shot up is an even larger obstacle to overcome.
Hibbert is the biggest big man in this series at 7'2. Vogel's decision to sit his defensive anchor in Game 1 has been debated up and down, but what's done is done. What matters now for Indiana is their plan going forward. Vogel explained that the Heat had a better plan of attack against Hibbert and will adjust accordingly, but Miami has the personnel to stretch Indiana's defense. Hibbert went 9-of-18 for 19 points while also grabbing nine rebounds (seven offensive) and blocking two shots.
LeBron James doing it all
James was dominant in Game 1. He not only hit the game-winning layup in overtime, but also notched a triple-double. Paul George and the Pacers' defense had their hands full trying to key in on James, but he still stood out as the best player on the court. Not only did he put up fantastic numbers, but his impact as a perimeter defender suffocated the Pacers' dribble penetration.
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Heat opened as 7-point favorites, via Oddsshark.com