The bad news? Everything that could've went wrong pretty much did.
The good news?
After a fairly quick start against the Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers found themselves down double figures before the end of the first quarter and spent a better part of the game swimming against the current, or better known as turnovers, poor defense, and a lack of physicality, to even stay within those double figures. Indiana did manage to come within two late in the second quarter, but let it slip away on a 10-2 Miami run. Indiana fell behind 23 points, closing the quarter on a 9-0 run.
But the final two possessions of the third went awry, a summary of the night as a whole, to essentially lend an anticlimactic semblance of a comeback behind D.J. Augustin as the Pacers caught a Miami team keyed in, especially between Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers, who led the Heat to the win. Miami came into the game knowing the importance, knowing Indiana was the last team to beat them and that Indiana was the only team they haven't beaten. Unlike the last time Miami planned to run Indiana off the floor, they came to play tonight.
The Heat shot the lights out tonight, finishing the game under 56%, but had themselves around 60% for stretches of the game. It wouldn't have mattered which team was on the other end if that's the case. Aside from the hot shooting (Bosh shot 11-15 and Chalmers 7-9), the Heat made it a point to play more physical than Indiana, and it worked. The Pacers had no response offensively and that cost them in a big way when they needed to get buckets.
Indiana had 18 turnovers, leading to 27 Heat points. Hot shooting, physicality, 27 points off turnovers? No wonder the Pacers didn't win this game. It's easy to look at the play of Chalmers and Bosh and say, "Well, they aren't going to do that very often." That's true. But LeBron James had 13 points. There's another guy who won't do that very often. Dwyane Wade had a cool 23 with six steals, and it was off to the races for Miami, who, by the way, got 11 from Ray Allen.
David West was fantastic in the first half, leading the Pacers with 24 points on 7-10 shooting and 10-11 from the line, but had just seven in the second half. When carrying the team, it helps to get help, and there was a lot of no shows tonight offensively aside from Roy Hibbert, who had 16, playing big stretches, and D.J. Augustin, who hit four three pointers for 14 points. Paul George was 2-11 for 10 points. He did have six boards and five assists, but totaled five turnovers. George Hill did not look right tonight, and it's not hard to see the Miami Heat keying in on Lance Stephenson, who aside from a pretty remarkable and one play, was made the scrub Miami forever wants him to be.
What was the lesson tonight? Indiana can't get pushed around if they hope to be back in Miami in May. It's pretty much as simple as that. It's possible to draw up scenarios where this helps Indiana, but let's face it, this sucked. The Pacers had the upper hand against Miami again, and let it slip away. The Pacers 14-17 road record takes a step back after some recent improvement (albeit against weaker competition), but this is where they have to win if they plan on getting where they want this year.
In the end, the Pacers managed to hold serve against the Heat despite the woeful finish to the season series, but the season has a long way to go and there's still another opportunity for redemption if the Pacers can remain focused and push forward come time for the postseason. The Pacers will move on to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, who themselves got ran off the floor tonight, as a dose of perspective.