Indiana change the pace as they take away Miami’s home-court advantage.
It took a buzzer-beating lay-up in overtime of Game 1 for the Miami Heat to secure a home win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
However, unfortunately for the AA Arena faithful there were no repeat heroics in Game 2 as the Indiana Pacers sealed a 97-93 win over their Eastern Conference rivals to tie up the series.
All-Star Paul George was immense once again, while Roy Hibbert’s presence was a determining factor, after coach Frank Vogel received criticism for not having him out on the floor to deny LeBron James the chance to be the game-winner in their first meeting.
The series now switches back to Indiana for Games 3 and 4, and the Pacers have been here before. Last year, in the second round of the playoffs, they took a 2-1 lead over Miami before throwing it away and losing three consecutive games thereafter.
Vogel along with his players all stress that they have learnt from their mistakes and are a more mature outfit which is capable of dealing with that situation should it arise again.
His initial claims that the heartbreaking defeat in the first clash would only “strengthen their belief” has come to fruition, so why doubt him this time round?
Having not lost a single postseason game at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse so far this year, they will be confident of their chances of turning the screw on the defending champions, but know they will undoubtedly have forced a reaction from them.
Though the odds may not reflect it at this stage, in some people’s eyes the Pacers could now be considered favourites for this series.
Throughout the regular season, and in the two playoff games thus far, they have shown that they are capable of going toe-to-toe with Miami and coming out on top.
Along with home advantage, they must now prove their claims of being an improved and mature team, by managing the increased level of expectation surrounding them.
George, Hibbert and George Hill will be integral to their chances, but if they continue to grow through this series and continue to show the type of play that has got them into this position, they are more than capable of providing the biggest upset of the playoffs.