But, let's keep the focus on sports here. The Pacers managed to hold off the Heat in the second half. The first half was pretty awful. The team looked sluggish and simply overmatched. Even with the lack of size, the Pacers just seemed unable to get anything going on offense. When the Pacers did get looks, but, unfortunately, were totally unable to hit anything.
The second half couldn't be a more different story. The Pacers found their shooting stride and seemed to wear down the Heat. LeBron played an awful lot of minutes last night, sitting out for only about five minutes or so. Wade got a little more rest, sitting for about ten minutes. Both seemed worn down at the end of the game, though. Wade missed a layup that would have either tied it or taken the lead (I can't remember the exact score at the time). It wasn't an easy layup by any means, but one a decent NBA player should make most of the time. Definitely a layup somebody of Wade's caliber is going to make nine times out of ten. LeBron, for his part, missed two clutch free throws. If these guys are already starting to wear down, the Heat might be in real trouble. The big duo scored 52 of Miami's 75 points. Nobody else on the team scored more than five points.
True to form, the Pacers had four guys in double figures (Granger, West, George, and Hill) with two more with eight (Hibbert and Barbosa). Again, one of these things ESPN really ought to be pushing in this series. I haven't really watched ESPN since last night's win,* but that would be the story line I would write.
*Which is a big reason why this post is being written so late in the day.
A couple things did perplex me during last night's game, though. The Pacers were a better team without Hibbert on the floor last night, something I didn't think I would say. Sure, Hibbert has a size advantage, but LeBron especially and Wade to a smaller degree abused Hibbert on the defensive end. They floated in teardrop after teardrop as Hibbert was caught too far away from the basket to go for a block, but unable to draw closer for fear they would blow by him. The Pacers defense was much, much more solid defensively matching a smaller lineup with Miami's smaller, faster guys. With one caveat: Leandro Barbosa, no matter how excellent a scorer he may be, cannot guard Dwyane Wade. I have no idea why Barbosa kept on Wade through big chunks of the fourth quarter. Note, this didn't happen all night. For much of the night, Danny Granger took LeBron and Paul George took Wade, which worked out nicely. Granger has an idea of how to deal with LeBron from all those games they played while the LeBron was in Cleveland, and George's length seemed to really bother Wade. When Granger was out, though, George shifted over to LeBron, which was fine. I would have done the same thing. But I didn't understand why not shift George Hill, who is the much better defender, to Wade instead of Barbosa, who is pretty much a one-way player? That made a whole lot more sense to me.
Anyway, it was a great, hard-fought win. They'll do it again tomorrow, this time on ESPN from Banker's Life Fieldhouse. Feel very free to use #BeatTheHeat on Twitter. Oh, and a big congrats to Larry Bird on winning a well-deserved executive of the year award. A lot of fans were getting impatient with the Pacers rebuilding, but this year and this award validated that Bird knows basketball better than quite possibly anybody on the planet. Who else has won MVP, Coach of the Year, and Exec of the Year? Nobody, that's who. Sounds like a pretty solid argument to me.