Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (3) is guarded by Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (3) in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Miami 107-96. (USA TODAY Sports: Brian Spurlock)
The real Indiana Pacers are in the process of standing up and the Miami Heat are going to need stand up right alongside.
The Heat will attempt to draw even in the Eastern Conference finals when they visit the Indiana Pacers for Game 2 on Tuesday.
Indiana limped through the last half of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs but was clearly the dominant team in Game 1, leading wire-to-wire as Miami struggled to get stops.
The Pacers enjoyed their highest-scoring game of the postseason with the 107-96 Game 1 victory and got at least 15 points from all five starters.
“It’s a good start to the series but it’s just a good start, that’s all it is,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “We’ve got to expect a great fight in Game 2.”
The Heat lost for just the second time in the playoffs but remained unconcerned and confident moving forward.
“They took care of business in Game 1, but we’ll figure it out for Game 2,” said LeBron James, who put up 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals for Miami.
The game will be televised on ESPN with an 8:30 p.m. tip-off today.
Miami stuck with the small lineup that served it well in the semifinals instead of trying to match Indiana’s bigger starters.
That plan left center Chris Bosh along the perimeter, where he went 0-of-5 from 3-point range and finished with just nine points, and put him on bruising Roy Hibbert defensively.
“That’s probably us at our worst defensively,” coach Eric Spoelstra told reporters. “You have to give (the Pacers) the credit. … It’s a matchup collectively that we have to figure out. That’s the whole point of competition.”
The Heat got a strong performance from guard Dwyane Wade, who scored a game-high 27 points on 12-of-18 shooting.
Indiana made it a goal at the beginning of the season to earn homecourt advantage over Miami and made sure it would not suffer a letdown at home. The Pacers, who dropped Game 1 at home in each of the two previous rounds, scored the first seven points and never trailed in Game 1, keeping the advantage at double figures for most of the fourth quarter.
“We’re just being aggressive off the bounce, trying to attack, force help and then share it,” Vogel said. “It’s a pretty simple plan. It’s not always easiest to execute, but I thought our guys executed pretty well offensively.”
Paul George led with 24 points and C.J. Watson provided key minutes off the bench.
1. The Pacers attempted 22 more free throws than the Heat in Game 1.
2. The home team has taken nine straight meetings between the teams.
3. Indiana F Evan Turner was inactive and not in the building for Game 1 due to strep throat and is day-to-day.
PREDICTION: Heat 93, Pacers 89