NBA Playoffs: Advantage Pacers in series with Heat

2013-05-26T00:00:00Z NBA Playoffs: Advantage Pacers in series with HeatThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

MIAMI - Chris Bosh stood up in a relatively quiet Miami Heat locker room and offered a concise, blunt and accurate assessment of where things stand so far in the Eastern Conference finals.

"Our backs are against the wall," Bosh said.

He's absolutely correct. Advantage, Indiana.

Over the first two games of these Eastern Conference finals in Miami, it was Indiana that primarily had control, never allowing the reigning NBA champions to hold anything more than a five-point lead. The Pacers got a split for their efforts, and now head home to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Sunday night, surely aware that they've already taken a huge step toward pulling off what would be called a huge upset.

"It's even. It's 1-1," Pacers star Paul George said. "They have the possibility of a split as well and taking home-court advantage back. So it's even. We don't feel like they've got the upper hand on us. We don't feel like we've got the upper hand on them."

If they were inclined, the Pacers could be justified to feel otherwise.

Other than letting Game 1 slip away when LeBron James was allowed basically unfettered access to the rim for an easy score on the final play of overtime, Indiana couldn't have asked for more out of its few days in South Florida. The Pacers handed the Heat what became their fourth loss in 50 games. They grabbed home-court advantage. They had the Heat juggling rotations more than at any point so far in this postseason.

Maybe most importantly, they get a sports rarity: A do-over.

A year ago, the Pacers split two games in Miami, took the series back to Indianapolis and couldn't ultimately finish the job. Losing to the Heat last season has haunted the Pacers ever since, so perhaps it's fitting that a year later - albeit one round deeper into the playoffs - the same scenario has presented itself again.

"This whole team is showing great desire and great heart and great belief," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "And that's the only way to put what these guys are doing right now, is they believe we can win this series, and they're giving it all their might. All their might. And they're playing with confidence and they are rising to the challenge. I'm very, very proud of them. We still have a lot of work to do. We all understand that."

So far in this postseason, work has seemed easy for the Pacers in Indianapolis.

Indiana is 6-0 at home in these playoffs, winning by an average of 14 points. The Heat are 4-0 on the road this postseason, also winning those games by an average of 14 points.

Welcome to the "something's got to give" scenario.

"We just stay even-keeled," James said. "We don't get too high, we don't get too low in the series. We know we're going to go into a hostile environment against a very good team, and we look forward to the challenge."

It wouldn't be surprising if James spent the 45 hours spanning the end of Game 2 to the start of Game 3 replaying two passes in his mind, over and over again.

With the Heat down two, James twice tried to get passes to Ray Allen in the final 45 seconds. Both were broken up by David West for turnovers that doomed Miami's comeback hopes.

"We're a growing and evolving team," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "We're young guys, but we know what we're doing."

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