One thing we know about a these Pacers/Heat battles is that neither team is ever satisfied with how they played. There are always areas both sides can point to that need improvement the next time around. That's simply because these teams make it so difficult on one another to execute.
After the Pacers win in Indy, the Heat had to account for Roy Hibbert and not let him go off around the rim, again. Mission accomplished last night, as more attention and a concerted effort to attack Hibbert put the big fella in foul trouble.
When Frank Vogel left Hibbert in the game after picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, Miami quickly worked to isolate Chris Bosh on Hibbert to force the big fella to guard Bosh on the move. Roy was soon sitting with five. Hibbert is a huge advantage, so after only taking three shots and scoring six points, you'd think the Heat would be rolling at home.
Look at some other numbers and it is amazing to realize the Pacers had a 15-point lead at one point and really folded down the stretch to lose. Miami won the rebound battle (37-36) and outscored the Pacers in the paint by 20 points. Of course, that advantage in the paint is in large part due to the 21 points the Heat scored in transition.
Read me those numbers before the game and I'd say the Heat win by 15 going away. But Lance Stephenson came out of the gate strong with nine first quarter points. Ian Mahinmi was a net positive off the bench in relief of Hibbert in the first half (not so much in the second half). Paul George and David West were able to assert themselves for productive stretches throughout the game. This wasn't how the Pacers drew it up, but they found away to put themselves in position to win.
But the Pacers couldn't handle the pressure the Heat applied in the final three minutes. The Pacers failed to get a bucket in four of their final five possession while Miami knocked down a pair of huge three-pointers. The Pacers failed to close out the Heat on their home floor again. As David West said after the game, "Obivsouly, we have a lot of work to do."
Fortunately it is December with plenty of time to put in the work.
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