NBA Playoffs 2013, Heat vs. Pacers: Miami holds slim 40-39 lead at halftime

USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James leads the Heat with 14 points while Norris Cole has nine in this potential closeout game.

The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat are locked in a tight Game 6, as the defending champs attempt to advance to their third straight NBA Finals. They lead at halftime, 40-39.

The teams traded baskets throughout most of the first quarter. As the quarter was winding down, Paul George got out in the open floor and dunked on Chris Bosh to put the Pacers up one. One the very next play, LeBron James nailed a three to put the Heat back up two. The play was similar to the end of the third quarter of Game 2, when James also followed up a George dunk with a three-pointer.

Indiana opened the second quarter on an 8-2 run, thanks in part to five straight points from George Hill. The Heat struggled the entire first half scoring from inside the three-point line. The Heat are shooting 37 percent from the field, but are 7-for-9 on three-point shots. Miami responded with a run of their own, mostly while LeBron James was on the bench, and was able to take the slim lead into halftime.

Before the game Tom Lewis looked at three keys that would determine the outcome of the game. Here's where we stand so far.

1. Will the Heat miss Birdman in their closing effort?

They've missed his scoring in the paint off rolls to the baskets and offensive rebounds, but Joel Anthony has provided much of the energy, rebounding and defense Chris Andersen brings. While Anthony only scored two points in the first half, he did grab six rebounds and had a steal and a block.

2. Can the Pacers backcourt bring it at home?

They haven't hurt the Pacers by any means. Hill has seven points in the game and Lance Stephenson has been all over the place, grabbing seven first-half rebounds. While he only has two points, his energy has sparked a couple of rare Pacers fast break points.

3. Which Heat players will help LeBron?

Not Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (four points combined), but James, who leads the Heat with 14 points, is definitely getting help. We mentioned Anthony's defense, but Norris Cole is the surprising contributor of the game so far. The second-year point guard has nine points on 4-6 shooting and kept the Heat in the game when James went to the bench in the second quarter.

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