After being heralded as a hero after the first game, LeBron James messed up in the four quarter by turning the ball over on two consecutive possessions that would could have tied the games up for the Miami Heat, but instead he turned the ball over twice, showing that the presence of Roy Hibbert on the floor changes everything, and not for the better if the NBA champions are concerned.
The most talked about moment of the previous game was Roy Hibbert being benched for the final play, which LeBron James turned into a game winner. This time, with the Pacers leading 95-93, Roy Hibbert was on the floor for the two crucial possessions which James simply messed up. One was an attempt to find Ray Allen right next to him, but David West read the signs and stole the ball, and the second was on the final Heat drive, with 8 seconds left. James penetrated, couldn’t find a way in and got stuck, physically and in his mind about the decision. He tried a tricky pass to the perimeter, but lost the ball, and the game, 97-93.
Game 2 taught us that with Hibbert on the floor, all the Pacers need to do is remain disciplined to prevent the Heat making the most of open shots that don’t come along too often. James scored 8 points (through driving to the basket) when Hibbert wasn’t on the floor, but turned the ball over 4 times, and scored only 4 points, while driving to the basket with Hibbert waiting in the paint.
James finished with 36 points on 14-for-20 from the field, but the Pacers can live with that. They can live with the fact that 67 points came from their big three, while the rest of their role players just couldn’t make the necessary plays. Ray Allen was off the mark once more, while Shane Battier finished with 0 points. Both Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers couldn’t bring the desired contribution offensively, and the Heat simply turned into a team that completely relies on its superstar to drag them all the way through. He had a huge game, but it wasn’t enough.
They’re struggling with Paul George, who was especially accurate with James on him (16 points out of his 22 while LeBron guarding him), not to mention Roy Hibbert, who scored 29 points, but most of them, as usual, in the first half. His fatigue does cost him in the second half, but his defense makes up for it even when he can’t score.
For now, Chris Andersen has been the best player off the bench for Miami, but they need to get some three point shooting going on. When James was focused, the Heat punished Indiana for traps and double teams with a few threes. But that being their biggest advantage, they shot a disappointing 7-22, missing quite a few open shots. To make the most of the moments Indiana give up on trying to defend them man-to-man, the Heat need to start hitting open shots, instead of relying on LeBron James to bail them out again and again.
Someone has to step up for Dwyane Wade being far less than 100% (scoring only 14 points), which is going to be more and more of an issue as the series progresses. Chris Bosh is doing well offensively, but the Heat couldn’t keep Lance Stephenson and George Hill at bay like in the first game, which defensively was their biggest problem, not George and Hibbert who are going to get their points anyway.
Not finding the right kind of defensive solutions to their problems is going to cost the Heat the series, not their struggles with Hibbert, which only seem as the graver matter because of what happened in game 1. Spoelstra and Vogel have been trading adjustments and mismatches on both ends for two games now, and it’s only going to get more interesting. If the Heat can’t find a way to contain the starters of the Indiana Pacers like they did with some in Game 1, it’s going to get problematic.