Heat pull away from Pacers in whirlwind second half

By Matt Moore | NBA writer
The Miami Heat are once again toying with the narrative.

Punched in the mouth by an Indiana Pacers team that came to play Sunday in the first half, and without Chris Bosh because of an abdominal injury, the Heat had every reason to cave. LeBron James could have wilted again, setting keyboards aflame across the country: Miami, losing the day James received his MVP honor. The phrase "choke artist" would have been etched across the sky, basically.

Instead, Miami 95, Indiana 86.

James finished with 16 fourth-quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, including a pull-up dagger to finish the job inside the final minute. He was relentless, attacking the basket and forcing the issue. It was a performance worthy of James' status as MVP. A 1-0 lead for the Heat. An opportunity lost for the Pacers.

What does Game 1 tell us about the series?

Indiana won't be going down without a fight. But the big concern in the series was whether the Pacers would have enough offensive starpower. We know the Heat do. In the second half, Dwyane Wade and James combined for 42 points, while the Pacers scored just 38. When you have two guys capable of outscoring the other team? That's a bad sign.

Wade demolished the Pacers with a different approach, going routinely into the post and overpowering Leandro Barbosa, forced into longer minutes due to foul trouble for George Hill. James on the other hand created space off the pick and roll and the Pacers were unable to effectively come or help on him.

The Heat wil need to play better to win this series. The Pacers will have to play better to win this series. But when all else fails, it's not bad to have an MVP to fall back on.
 
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