The Pacers appeared to be off to a great start on their four-game road trip midway through the third quarter when Paul George and Monta Ellis fueled a surge that put the Blue and Gold up 18. Then a familiar plot line unfolded at American Airlines Arena where trying to close out wins have turned the place into a house of horrors for the Pacers.
The Pacers lead the all-time regular season series against the Heat 60-42, but the home court advantage between the two teams is strong. The Pacers are 43-9 against the Heat in Indy, but now just 17-33 in Miami and 2-8 since LeBron took his talents to South Beach and back. Three recent playoff matchups play out much the same with the Pacers going 5-4 at the Fieldhouse, but just 2-8 on the road.
No lead is safe for the Pacers in Miami and when you miss 7 of 13 free throws down the stretch and fail to make other winning 50-50 plays, another valuable win quickly flips into a L, much as it did in Chicago last week. As Nathan points out, you can't point to one problem but it does seem the Pacers are rarely able to overcome excuses to execute down the stretch in these tough losses.
The Pacers have won just one of their last eight road games and are 7-10 away from the Fieldhouse for the season. Their next three games are on the road as are eight of the next 10 on the schedule. While all is not lost at 19-15 and remaining among the clump of teams in solid playoff position in the East, the Pacers have to figure out how to close out tough wins on the road or they won't be able to rise above the middle of the pack.
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