Paul George answered a few questions from a reporter who was interested in whether George thought he’d done a good job of making himself marketable for endorsement deals (umm, not the time, buddy).Then he was off to shootaround – his pregame touch is as pretty as they come – about 75 minutes before the tipoff of the biggest game of his life.
Even Miles Plumlee, the rookie forward out of Duke who played just 55 minutes this season, was calmly answering a reporter’s seemingly never-ending questions about the Pacers “togetherness,” what made the team special and how it’d gotten to this point.
The Indiana Pacers sure seemed calm.
But you’ve heard the saying: “Pressure busts pipes.”
We certainly saw that Monday night.
“We wanted to really impose our energy defensively and really get to our identity of pressuring them, hopefully making them make mistakes, getting us some easy ones in the open court,” explained Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra following his team’s 99-76 Eastern Conference-clinching Game 7 over the Indiana Pacers.
Whether it was hedging and pressuring in a pick-and-roll situation, rotating to an open shooter, getting back in transition or doubling the post (from all angles), the defensive intensity of the Miami Heat forced the Pacers out of their rhythm and into the offseason after a valiantly fought series with the defending NBA champions.
“It’s very tough playing that sort of style, that fast paced style, but we felt that was the advantage we had on this team and that’s what we do,” said Chris Bosh, who finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds. “Playing like there’s no tomorrow, just flying around and helping each other out and most importantly, rebounding the basketball, and that just led to everything else.”
The Indiana Pacers had 15 turnovers in the first half, including nine of them during a first quarter that they somehow finished leading the Miami Heat by the score of 21-19, despite being outshot by the count of 28-to-15.
“We just turned the ball over too much,” said David West, who finished with 14 points, 6 boards and 6 turnovers. “We talked about that before the game, being the biggest key. You know, the offensive fouls, just too many turnovers for a team of this caliber. Especially on their home court with all that’s on the line, just too much to overcome.
“I thought they were a lot more aggressive on their back side, their defense. They were there on the catch. They didn’t allow, particularly to Roy, they just didn’t allow a lot of space.”
The Pacers had to know the Heat were going to turn the temperature up in their building, but there just wasn’t much they could do about it in the deciding matchup.