The Indiana Pacers wrapped up a thrilling overtime victory over the Miami Heat by doing something they hadn’t been able to do all night: hit three pointers. Indiana shot just 5-20 through regulation, giving up eight extra threes to a Miami team that hit six alone in the first quarter. In overtime, the Pacers hit their final three from deep, a pair from Darren Collison helping sink in the dagger for the win.
Indiana were forced into overtime after committing nine turnovers in the fourth quarter, seeing an eight point lead dissipate behind 10 points off turnovers from the Heat in the fourth. Both teams had a chance to secure the win in the fourth, but misses at the free throw line put them into the extra period. Indiana fell behind on two separate occasions, but pulled through on an 11-2 run that featured the three threes.
Collison’s shooting in the overtime was key in helping Indiana to the victory. Collison, like the Pacers, struggled shooting for much of the night, but went 3-3 in the overtime period to finish with 12 points. He was only the fourth Pacer in double figures, but all nine rotation players scored at least six, showcasing a total team effort on the scoreboard.
Victor Oladipo led the way with 23 points, hitting his only two threes of the night in the fourth and overtime. His three in overtime put the Pacers up six, giving him redemption after slipping on the potential game winner in regulation.
Oladipo also finished with a starter high five assists and three steals, as part of 12 as a team. Thaddeus Young led the way with five steals, playing a fantastic all around game with 22 points and nine rebounds. The fight of Young was infectious for the Pacers, who would help the Pacers to some key wins on 50/50 balls.
With the game not always going Indiana’s way in terms of shot making and even with some frustrating officiating, the Pacers never got down on themselves, controlling the rebounding game, outrebounding Miami by 12. Young had nine, but both Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner came up with eight, which was big in terms of Turner’s game as he struggled on just 1-8 shooting.
Turner has found success with his midrange this season, but it wasn’t going for him tonight, but he remained engaged with four assists and two blocks. Bogdanovic did shoot well, finishing with 18 points on 6-12 from the floor, hitting a pair of threes. His first three of the night came to end the first quarter, giving the Pacers momentum down nine that they’d use to push into the lead in the second quarter.
Off the bench, the Pacers were still without Domantas Sabonis, ruled out after suffering an ankle injury in practice, but got a solid outing from Trevor Booker, finishing with six points and six rebounds. The play of the bench was what helped Indiana back into the game after a quick start by Miami, with Lance Stephenson injecting life into the crowd with eight points.
Glenn Robinson III has gotten lost a lot since his return from injury, but looked his most engaged tonight, wrapping up his first perfect shooting performance of the year on 3-3 shooting with a pair of threes. He also moved the ball well within the offense, finding Booker for a layup in the second quarter as the Pacers continued to cut into the lead.
Indiana was lead on the night in rebounds by Cory Joseph of all players, who had a game high 10 to go with nine points and seven assists. Joseph had four of those assists in the first half, dishing on a pair of Bogdanovic threes before eventually putting the Pacers in the lead for the first time himself.
Tonight’s win held a special significance not only on the floor, but in the broadcast booth as well. Bobby “Slick” Leonard returned to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the first time since January after a fall.
Slick got to call a great one, unleashing a slew of patented Boom Babys in overtime, which propelled the Pacers not only to the win, but back into the playoffs for the third consecutive season. The Pacers had to inch in on the final night of the regular season last year, but will be given three weeks to work out their best seeding.
Indiana holds steady in fifth place behind both Cleveland and Philadelphia who continue to surge having won five and six consecutive games respectively. The win over the Heat will likely give them the tiebreaker edge, as they now hold a four game lead over Miami, who slipped to eighth with the loss.
The Pacers also caught another break with Washington losing at home, which gives them a 2.5 game lead over the sixth place Wizards. The Pacers will take every advantage they can get as they head out West for a late season four game swing to the left coast.
That trip will begin against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, who are currently dealing with a slew of injuries to their top players. That obviously works in Indiana’s favor, but can’t be something they rely on to push them to a victory against a team that is still incredibly dangerous.