With playoff seeding on the line, the Heat and Pacers battled for the advantage of the number one seed. Going into the game, the Pacers had the 0.5 lead for first, after a win versus the Bucks.
In the victory versus Milwaukee, Frank Vogel benched his starters, and let the role players start, and play most of the game. Vogel was unhappy on how his team was playing (Before the game), and wanted to send a message to his team.
The Heat are coming off of a 1-3 record in the past 4 games, with the losses decided by a total of 7 points. The past two games were heart-brakers, as Lebron missed a dunk to tie the game and then the Grizzlies hit a miracle shot to send the game into OT.
Both teams were unhappy coming into the game, and both wanted to have momentum going into the playoffs. A win versus their adversary would be a strong boost to their momentum.
In the first half, both teams were playing great, the game had energy (Moving very quickly), and the stars of both teams were playing well.
Lebron came strong out of the gate, as he scored 10 points in the first 6 minutes of the game, and finished the half with 16 points (Finished game with 36). David West came out on fire, as he shot 4/5 for the first 8 minutes of the game. Paul George had steady scoring, and was able to finish the half with 13 points. The only stars who were not doing anything, were Dwyane Wade and Roy Hibbert. Wade rested on the bench, while Hibbert was simply doing nothing versus Miami. Hibbert finished the half with just 1 point, and no rebounds!
With the big men not posting up down low, the game sped up and moved along pretty quickly. For the Heat, they played great, and when the game speed started to rise, the Heat gained a lot of energy. Miami was winning every loose ball, grabbing offensive rebounds (5), and the crowd was getting into the game. The only problem, was the Heat couldn't make a shot! Miami shot 41% from the floor, and the role players (Everyone but Bosh and Lebron) shot 7 for 24 from the field.
Indiana played pretty well in fast pace, but were unable to push the lead with Miami shooting struggles. Indiana shot 51% from the field in the first half, but their turnovers (10 in first half, giving Miami 10 points off of turnovers), kept the game close. Miami's energy on defense forced Indiana into all the turnovers, and showed their Championship defense.
Overall, the momentum was pretty even going into half. Miami had energy, but couldn't make a shot. On the other hand, Indiana was shooting well, but their turnovers were killing them.
In the second half, the turnovers continued, but it was the Pacers poor shooting that killed themselves.
Miami went on a 23-4 run to open the third quarter, and push the lead to 23 points. In the run, the Pacers shot 1-10 from the field, while the Heat scored on 14 of 16 possessions. Lebron scored 9 points for the Heat, while Hibbert shot 1-6 during the stretch.
Miami had blown the game open, and had a 71-48 lead. Miami had won the game. Right?
At the end of the third, and beginning of the fourth, Indiana made a push by going on a 13-0 run. The run pushed the deficit to only 9 points, and the Pacers were back in the game.
During the Pacers comeback, the Heat went scoreless for 5 straight minutes, while Indiana made two threes, and a couple of jumpers.
However, Miami responded right back with a 9-0 run to push the lead back to 18 points. Miami made 3 straight field goals, and 3 straight free throws, while Indiana did not score for 2 straight minutes. Miami had finished off the Pacers.
At the end of the day, the Heat did everything they needed to do to defeat the Pacers. Miami attacked the basket (44 points in paint, Indiana only had 26), they ran on the fast break (18 points on fast break, Indiana had 7), Miami forced turnovers and took advantage (16 turnovers for Indiana, 9 for Miami. Miami had 20 points off turnovers, Indiana had 12), and shut down Indiana's big men (Out rebounded the Pacers 40-31, and Hibbert had 5 points and grabbed ZERO rebounds).
Overall, the Heat run in the third quarter moved the Miami Heat past the Pacers, and into the number 1 seed in the East. The Heat walked out with a 98-86 win, and a 0.5 lead for first place.