The discussion for Indiana Pacers' Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat is going to revolve heavily around Frank Vogel's decision to remove Roy Hibbert defensively in the game's final two defensive possessions, which led to two LeBron James' layups, including the final with 2.2 seconds remaining on the clock with the Pacers up a point. Regardless of the decision by Vogel, 2.2 seconds is way too much time against someone like James.
At the same time, Indiana was the benefit of a fortuitous foul with seconds left in overtime, salvaging a horrible possession as Paul George was fouled by Dwyane Wade, went to the free throw line and knocked down all three to take the 102-101 lead. Regardless, Vogel's decision to force James into a jumper failed when George was in bad position backfired in a big way, leading James towards the basket for the game winning layup. With Hibbert on the bench, it allowed an easy path to the basket instead of using Hibbert's defense to what was assuredly heading towards Chris Bosh to pop up the game winning shot instead.
Vogel played his odds that his defense could stay in front of James and came up snake eyes. His adjustments this postseason have been good enough to rebound from losses (usually anyway), yet there's something demoralizing about giving up Game 1 to the Heat when you have the lead. The Pacers didn't have to win this game, but they failed to seize the opportunities they have and not having this game could easily cost them later on in this series.
Despite the call, Vogel remained optimistic, citing Bosh as the reason he had Hibbert on the bench, also noting, "We'll probably have him in next time." Regardless of the last 2.2 seconds, the Indiana Pacers were incredibly lucky to be in the game. They did themselves no favors by committing 20 turnovers, letting Chris Andersen to rule the paint as part of 60 Miami points in the red, allowing 16 offensive rebounds, and getting virtually nothing from George Hill and Lance Stephenson offensively.
Yet there was very little the Pacers can't be expected to do in future games to continue to challenge the Heat. Unfortunately for Indiana, it's not likely the Heat have 21 turnovers themselves, but they did a lot of things right tonight despite having a number of bad spells. Paul George was clutch when he needed to be clutch, forcing overtime on a deep three pointer and finding a way to the line to drill all three of his free throws to take the lead. He finished up with a team high 27 points, scoring 25 in the second half and doing a solid job of guarding James.
James had a fairly quiet game despite stumbling into a 30 point, 10 rebound, and 10 assist triple double. Until the final four Miami points, the Pacers were still able to force James into four turnovers. What Indiana learned was the difference between James and Carmelo Anthony. "Limiting" LeBron James turns into a triple double. There's no substitute for the best player in basketball, but Indiana's did a hell of a job trying tonight.
David West had his best postseason game, scoring 26 points on 11-17 shooting, but struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 4-8. The Pacers missed eight free throws, but shot a respectable 24-32. Roy Hibbert also was a big threat on the offensive end, scoring 19. Tyler Hansbrough came off the bench for a huge 10 points, helping to minimize the play of Chris Andersen, who was a perfect 7-7 for 16 points.
All in all, the only thing to really take away from this game was Indiana giving away Game 1 in a series they need every win they can get if they hope to pull the upset in the final 2.2 seconds with a questionable coaching call. Even still, a lot of things about this series that won't go away despite tonight's loss. For the Pacers, however, this isn't going to be the one game they had a chance to win. It's one of seven. Game 2 will tip off Friday night in Miami as the Pacers look to get the series back to Indianapolis 1-1.