So this is how New Jersey felt.
Last Friday, the Indiana Pacers shot their way (61% eFG%) to a 20-point lead early and then maintained the big lead throughout the remainder of the game. They had an answer for every run attempt by the Nets, but those attempts were rare.
Tonight Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat put the Pacers down big early and then let the lead hover around 25 points throughout the second half. Wade absolutely torched the Pacers from the opening tip, scoring 18 first-quarter points and setting a competitive tone for the game that the Pacers would never match, leaving Indiana with a 113-83 loss. Not a pleasant start to their three-game road trip.
The only thing resembling a run by the Pacers occurred when Dahntay Jones cashed in a nice pass from Earl Watson just as the buzzer sounded to end the half. The bucket drew the Pacers within 19 points which offered a little hope since two minutes earlier the Heat were up by 23.
Once agian, Wade hosed down any positive Pacer momentum when he opened the third quarter by scoring the first three points. The lead would never dip below 20 points again. Wade didn't need to exert much energy the rest of the way and the Pacers certainly didn't demand it of him, which in the end is probably a good thing because the Heat All-Star had his game rolling at an elite level tonight.
If necessary, Wade could've done whatever was necessary to win and if the game was tighter his performance probably would've led all of the highlight shows overnight. As it was, Wade scored and extremely efficient 32 points in 31 minutes on just 20 field goal attempts.
As for the Pacers, they're left trying to find something resembling a game and fire up for another tough game tomorrow night at Orlando.
After the jump, more thoughts on the loss.
- The Pacers struggled shooting the ball all night and a lot of credit has to go to the Heat defense. Not a coincidence the Pacers shot in the mid to low 30's from the floor for the third straight game against Miami. There were plenty of possessions where the Pacers simply couldn't get open for a decent look and they had to work hard for those looks they did get.
- A clankfest like this isn't all defense though. It requires plenty of open misses and the Pacers met that requirement. Consider the last two games at Miami that resulted in a 30-point and 34-point loss. The combined shooting efficiency for the Pacers is paltry at best with an eFG% of a little over 37%.
- Danny Granger was never able to find his stroke, starting the game shooting 1-12 and ending making only 2 of 16 from the floor for just eight points. Granger had several mid range shot attempts and little jumpers around the hoop that exposed his lack of rhythm on the night. It appeared he was pulling the string on the ball as everything came up short.
- Brandon Rush was the only Pacer to shoot over 50% on the night (7-9). Credit to Rush for continuing to grind through this mess of a game. He played over 36 minutes and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
- Roy Hibbert started off the game pretty well, but couple early fouls slowed him down and once the Pacers were down big, Hibbert's impact faded.
- Mike Dunleavy only took six shots in just under 21 minutes and generally played like he had a case of the blahs. In fairness to Dunleavy though, there was little fight to be found in blue and gold on this night. Makes you want to consider checking the receipts from South Beach last night. At least that would provide an explanation for the ugh-inducing effort tonight. Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case.
- Even in garbage time, the Heat gave the Pacers problems. Apparently, Carlos Arroyo and Daequan Cook are buried on the Heat depth chart and both combined with Jamal Magloire to take advantage of a little burn after the game was decided. Arroyo and Cook made all five of their combined shots in the last five minutes of the game making me wonder if the Pacers could've handled the Heat's second unit tonight.
- Stacy Paetz offered up a funny story about Rafer Alston recently joining the Heat. Upon his arrival, Dwyane Wade asked Alston if he needed extra help learning the offensive system. Rafer said "I got it, 3:30." Wade said "what's 3:30?" Rafer: "get ball to 3 (Wade) and 30 (Beasley)." Mission accomplished tonight since 3 and 30 combined for 53 points.