The Indiana Pacers have turned the tables and evened their series with the Miami Heat after their victory last night in Miami.The Eastern Conference Finals are now level at one game each, with play now heading to Indiana for the first time after the Pacers defeated the Heat 97-93 in game 2.
Lebron James lead the way for the Heat with 36 points, good enough to lead all scoring. Roy Hibbert lead the Pacers with 29, while Paul George dropped 22, including that infamous dunk over Birdman. More on that later.
The loss comes at an inopportune time for Lebron, who was just starting to shake the image he created for himself at the beginning of his career as not being a clutch player. James two late turnovers were a key reason his team fell just short in a home playoff game. After elevating his play to his usual super hero level for much of the fourth quarter, James collapsed under the pressure defense of Indiana during the crucial last minute of play. Perhaps he wilted under the ‘Heat’ once again, this time as a result of defensive pressure by Pacers’ forward David West, who was in on both turnovers.
The first turnover came at the 43 second mark when David West was able to steal a pass from James with the score 95-93. Fellow All-Star Dwayne Wade was able to bail out his teammate with his defensive presence, forcing a 24 second violation on the other end and getting the ball back for his team.
With the ball back and only down two, James once again collapsed in the clutch, giving the ball away following another stellar defensive effort by West, who deflected the ball away from James. With time running out on the Heat, James had to foul, and the Pacers drilled their free throws with ease to ice the Heat and take the momentum back with them to Indiana.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, this is the first time in all of Lebron James career that he has turned the ball over twice in the final minute of a game, playoff or otherwise. This may be true, but its hardly the first time he has struggled in the last minute of a closely contested ball game.
The Pacers believe in themselves. They aren’t crazy for doing it either. This team held a 2-1 lead in last year’s playoff series against the Heat before collapsing down the stretch. Earlier this season, the Heat were thoroughly dominated by the Pacers in the first two meetings between the teams. This team competed, was in position to win, and let game one slip away. They know they have the ability to hang with the best in the NBA and plan on proving it in this series.