The disappointment with how the Indiana Pacers bowed out of the playoffs is still hard to shake, but the experience of the drubbing the veteran Miami Heat put the Pacers through in Game 7 last night will have its benefits.
As I alluded to throughout the series, despite evidence to the contrary on the court in several games, the Pacers simply weren't ready to skip a step in the normal progression of contenders and reach the NBA Finals. That showed from the very outset of Game 7 as the first quarter, which was played to the Pacers' liking, wasn't played well. They had to be near perfect to beat the Heat in Miami and it was instead the Heat that nudged up against perfection.
Miami received big contributions from Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen while LeBron James still scored 32 points and blanketed Paul George all night. The Heat defense blitzed the Pacers like the '85 Bears, forcing the blue and gold to make quick, sound decisions with the basketball -- alas, their greatest weakness.
Nine turnovers in the first quarter and 15 total at the HALF robbed the Pacers of at least than many chances to score. Other key indicators went awry as well, with the points in the paint ending up even at 30 apiece but favoring the Heat until the game was settled. The second chance points weren't close to even, an area the Pacers need to dominate to beat the Heat. The Heat 22-12 advantage in second chance points combined with the turnovers to really tell the story from a numbers standpoint.
It's almost easier this way, isn't it? The young players have to take their lumps and learn from the experience. There was no doubt which team was better and deserved to advance.
But there's also no doubt, the Pacers aren't done ascending and should continue battling he Heat in the East until LeBron and friends break up or break down. Yeah, that sounds better. After a disappointing Monday night, the sun is shining brightly in Indianapolis this morning, almost as bright as the future for the home town Pacers.
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