Paul George scored 24 points, David West had 19, and the Indiana Pacers protected their home court with a 107-96 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Indiana led wire-to-wire and never even gave the Heat a chance to tie the score after starting the game with a 5-0 lead.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Indiana. The home team has won all five meetings this season.
Dwyane Wade scored 27 points and LeBron James had 25 for the two-time defending NBA champions, who lost for only the second time in 10 playoff games.
Indiana had a 30-point first quarter for the first time since Feb. 27, extended the lead to 19 in the third and Miami couldn’t get closer than nine the rest of the way.
For months, people wondered what happened to the Indiana team that dominated the first half of the NBA season.
On Sunday, those Pacers suddenly reappeared.
— Associated Press
The Heat committed 26 fouls compared to 15 for the Pacers. The worst of it, of course, was a flagrant by Mario Chalmers on Watson with 9:22 left in the game. Chalmers first hit Watson with a common foul as Watson drove the basket. The Heat’s starting point guard then pushed Watson into press row, which was located on the baseline.
Chalmers was assessed a flagrant foul for the unnecessary shove and Watson was awarded four foul shots. His free throws gave the Pacers a 15-point lead.
An 18-foot turnaround jumper by Lance Stephenson put the Pacers ahead by 13 points with 7:37 to play and Indiana led by double digits for the remainder of the game.
— Miami Herald
It didn’t take 30 minutes of basketball Sunday for all five Pacers starters to reach double figures in scoring, and each starter made an impact in his own way.
Hill knocked down shots early. West punished the Heat inside on mismatches, ignoring his trusted jump shot to bully his way into the post. Paul George picked off shots in the flow of the offense, and Lance Stephenson provided crucial buckets in a big second quarter in particular. Miami struggled all game with Hibbert, who was never dominant but always present, scoring and rebounding consistently.
Starters combined to score 94 of Indiana’s 107 points in Game 1.
— Indianapolis Star