INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers weren’t the only ones with this game circled on the calendar.
The defending champion Miami Heat had to hear all summer about the Pacers’ improved depth, their internal growth, and their budding rivalry with a Miami team that knocked them out of the playoffs in 2012 and 2013. The Heat roared out of the gate in their first meeting with the Pacers since downing Indiana in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference finals, grabbing a 30-19 first-quarter lead before Indiana used its height and defensive smarts to slowly chip away and eventually down the two-time defending champs, 90-84.
Pacers center Roy Hibbert is used to working as the game’s most important player on the defensive end, but the big man worked as his team’s go-to offensive force during Indiana’s second-half comeback. Hibbert routinely found his way to the front of the rim against the slow-to-rotate Heat defense in the second half, piling up 15 second-half points on his way to a 24-point night against the undersized Miami front line. Swingman Paul George overcame a miserable first half to finish with 17 points in the win, while the Indiana defense completely flummoxed Miami in the second half, holding them to just 37 points in the term.Read More »from Indiana comes back to down Miami in a postseason-styled battle