INDIANAPOLIS – Eventually, the best player on the floor made sure Game 1 wouldn’t get away from the favored Miami Heat.
An already banged up Pacers squad had to play without Victor Oladipo (left eye) for three quarters on Tuesday and did not have the firepower to match a run in the final quarter.
Jimmy Butler’s 28 points and 24 from Goran Dragic paced the Heat in their 113-101 victory on Tuesday afternoon.
The Game 1 loss came with Oladipo leaving late in the first quarter after getting inadvertently poked in the eye. Oladipo stayed in to shoot (and make) both foul shots, but headed straight to the locker room after that, playing just 8 minutes (4 points on 0-for-2 shooting, 4-for-4 from the foul line). Oladipo went to the hospital as he had trouble seeing out of his left eye.
Without Oladipo, and with Aaron Holiday in foul trouble, the Heat could throw several bodies at T.J. Warren (22 points on 9-of-18 shooting) and that stymied the Pacers offensively.
Warren and Malcolm Brogdon each led Indiana with 22 points.
Getting to the foul line was a huge reason why Indiana built an early lead in this one, but that attacking ability was absent in the second half.
Indiana’s bench unit did offer a couple bright spots, including a late third quarter run that briefly gave the Pacers a lead.
But when Butler and Miami center Bam Adebayo (17 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists) re-entered the game, the Heat were able to control the game over the final half of the 4th quarter.
Miami scored 34 points in the final quarter, with Butler in closing mode.
The Pacers and Heat will meet for Game Two on Thursday at 1:00 PM.
Three Things Learned
-Defensive Approach: Miami’s ability to drive and kick was a huge recipe for success on Tuesday. The Heat got the ball into the paint way too often off the dribble, and that led to a variety of ways to attack the Pacers. In particular, the Pacers struggled in keeping Jimmy Butler (a 24 percent three-point shooter) out of the paint. This has been an issue for the Pacers all season long. Those breakdowns open you up defensively and from there the Pacers are chasing the remainder of the possession, including trying to secure the rebound. You have to make Butler beat you from the perimeter (those 3s he hit late were an anomaly) and then account for the actual shooters as need be. Tuesday was another struggling effort from Myles Turner, who has not had a good bubble re-start.
-Some Nice Bench Performances: A big reason why the Pacers continued to stay within striking distance throughout this one was what they got from their bench. You name a Pacers reserve and they likely contributed on Tuesday. Several of them were making their playoff debut, too. Justin Holiday (11 points on 4-of-4 shooting led the group, with JaKarr Sampson (10 points and 3 rebounds) and Edmond Sumner (6 points and 6 rebounds) also stepping up. It’s a weird balance facing Indiana. You had 10 guys play on Tuesday and the bench wasn’t the reason you lost. But you still feel like the Pacers need to do everything they can to try and have 2 of these 3 on the floor at all times: Victor Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren.
-Victor Oladipo Leaves With Eye Injury: An inadvertent poking of Victor Oladipo’s left eye had the Pacers guard in the locker room for the final three quarters on Tuesday. Miami’s Jae Crowder poked Oladipo in the eye as several players tried to secure a loose ball. Oladipo actually stayed in the game to shoot (and make) both foul shots, but then headed to the locker room with trainer Josh Corbeil afterwards. Nate McMillan said afterwards that Oladipo went to the hospital with blurry vision in his left eye. Indiana continued to list Oladipo as ‘questionable’ to return, but he never re-entered the game and played just 8 minutes total (4 points, 0-of-2 from the floor, 4-of-4 from the foul line). Obviously, the loss of Oladipo was a killer. It took one less dribble creator off the floor, which was only exacerbated by Aaron Holiday battling foul trouble all night, too. Will we see a rec spec’d Oladipo for Thursday’s Game Two?
Round 1 Playoff Schedule
Game 2: Thursday (8-20) at 1:00 PM, ESPN
Game 3: Saturday (8-22) at 3:30 PM, TNT
Game 4: Monday (8-24) at 6:30 PM, TNT
Game 5: Wednesday (8-26), TBD
Game 6: Friday (8-28), TBD
Game 7: Sunday (8-30), TBD
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