That didn’t exactly happen.
In a game that had the physicality and chippiness expected in the playoffs, the Heat weakness on their front line showed its head again and allowed the Pacers to control the game after the first quarter. Miami was once again beaten on the rebounding front by Indiana, although by not as much as in the first game.
The physical play of the game caused problems and frustration for the Heat. Early in the second quarter Chris Bosh picked up his third foul, quickly followed by a technical foul. That forced Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to sit Bosh for the rest of the quarter and the Pacers took advantage. The frustration only grew from there as Spoelstra, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem also picked up technical fouls.
The biggest difference in the game came in the matchup between Haslem and David West. After missing his first shot West quickly saw the mismatch he had against Haslem and attacked. Spoelstra never adjusted to the mismatch and that allowed the Pacers to attack the paint with ease. West was also able to use the times Battier was matched against him to his advantage. West’s dominance in the game allowed the Pacers to not let their lead get down to under ten points.
One of the few bright spots for the Heat in this game was the play of Chris Andersen. He showed signs of being in better shape and was able to give some energy to Miami’s lineup. That is a good sign for the Heat as they hope he will be able to contribute more as the season progresses.
The Heat are used to being undersized, but the team can’t expect for their quickness to carry them when teams like the Pacers adjust to that style. Andersen is showing that he can contribute once he gets in full basketball shape. That can go a long way when playoff time comes. Miami has shown it can beat Indiana without Bosh out of the lineup, but he is going to be more needed in the likely event that the two teams meet again in the post season. Another aspect that the Heat need to consider involves LeBron James. With Paul George coming into his own this season and Danny Granger expected to be back before the All-Star break Spoelstra has to think hard about how to use James against the Pacers since he is Miami’s best wing defender.
The teams will meet again on March 10 at American Airlines Arena.