By Scott Agness
Seeing “MIAMI” on the opposing team’s jersey brought out the best in the Pacers on Sunday afternoon, just as it typically does when they face off against the two-time defending champions. This rematch was what they had wanted all season, ever since the Heat ended their season in seven games last year.
The Pacers had one of their finest offensive performances of their season, shooting better than 51 percent and scoring a playoff-high 107 points in a 107-96 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pacers followed coach Frank Vogel’s message to set the tone early. They hit first, were the aggressors, and were on the attack all night.
The Pacers were sizzling-hot from outside, draining 5-of-6 first-quarter attempts and they lead 30-24 after the first 12 minutes.
Indiana maintained its double-digit lead for all but 19 seconds of the final period. Miami’s defense had no answer for Indiana and never seriously threatened in the game. Afterwards, Heat forward LeBron James said he felt they had a lot of breakdowns and far too many mistakes.
While the Heat had just two starters in double figures, Dywane Wade and James, the Pacers’ starting five proudly contribute at least 15 points each.
Roy Hibbert scored nine of his 19 points at the free throw line and he pulled down nine rebounds. The Pacers are 6-0 this postseason when he finishes in double figures.
“I thought it kept everybody on their toes because anybody could have scored at any point in time in the later half of the game. At some point, we’re all going to have double-digit points and that when we start playing our best.” – Roy Hibbert on the balanced scoring.
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