NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, May 26th (All times Eastern)
(1) Miami Heat (1-1) at (3) Indiana Pacers (1-1), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - LeBron James has played the role of hero. He has played the role of goat.
That's just during the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Indiana Pacers knotted the Eastern Conference Finals and now the series with the defending champion Miami Heat shifts to Indianapolis for Game 3 Sunday night.
After having their collective heart ripped out in Game 1 on Wednesday night in Miami, the Pacers stood tall, kept Roy Hibbert in the lineup, and prevailed, 97-93.
"It's a nice win. It's good to split. And we haven't done anything yet," said Hibbert. "We haven't closed the series out. We won one game. A lot of us feel we should be up 2-0 obviously with the last play of Game 1."
The last play of Game 1 was James' easy layup with 2.2 seconds on the clock. Hibbert was sitting on a metal chair as it took place, despite being an elite rim protector in the NBA.
Hibbert was sensational on Friday night with 29 points and 10 rebounds, but Game 2 was once again about the reigning MVP.
On this night, he did not deliver.
James turned it over twice with chances to win the game for the Heat.
"I made two mistakes tonight. That hurt our team and that hurt more than anything - let my teammates down," said James. "They expect me to make plays down the stretch, and I had the ball with the opportunity to make a couple of plays and I came up short. That burns."
The Pacers led by two with 43 seconds left when James' pass to Ray Allen was intercepted by David West. Indiana turned over the ensuing possession thanks to a shot-clock violation and James committed another turnover. His pass was batted away by West and George Hill buried two free throws to seal the victory.
"Very disappointing, of course, for me," said James. "That's the first thing I always look at on the stat sheet is my turnovers. I had two key ones at a big point of the game. I am very disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch. But I'll make up for them."
Aside from those two late hiccups (actually five all together), James was his usual brilliant self. He had 36 points on 14-for-20 shooting and grabbed eight boards.
Chris Bosh (17) and Dwyane Wade (16) were the only other Heat players in double figures on Friday. Both shot 6-for-14 from the floor.
For the Pacers, Hibbert was wonderful, but it was a balanced effort in the scoring column. All five starters scored in double digits led by Hibbert and Paul George. The third-team All-NBA forward, who overplayed James in Game 1 and allowed him to streak to the basket, netted 22 points.
Hill added 18 followed by West's 13 and 10 from Lance Stephenson.
Indiana's starters accounted for 92 of its 97 points.
"It's balanced and it's difficult to guard, and when everybody is clicking the way they were tonight, and I thought everybody had chances to step up and did step up for our team, we looked like a true team," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "It's fun to be a part of."
The Pacers won both of their regular-season matchups at home against the Heat. They are also a perfect 6-0 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse during this postseason.
Indiana had a 2-1 series lead in last season's Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Heat, but dropped three straight. Miami of course ascended to the top of the sport.
Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night.
05/26 10:37:04 ET