But in a Game 1 loss to the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Pacers’ big men failed to exploit that advantage for four quarters. The Heat outrebounded Indiana — including 15 offensive boards — and used a strong second half to take Game 1, 95-86.
Despite the loss, Indiana showed the gap between these two teams may not be as great as many thought. And the abdominal injury Miami forward Chris Bosh suffered in the first half Sunday lingers, a more focused interior effort could carry the Pacers to a Game 2 victory.
UPDATE (11:55 a.m.): Bosh has a “strained” abdominal muscle, but not a tear, according to a report from South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Ira Winderman. “The non-update update on Chris Bosh leaves opponents with game-to-game uncertainty, but we’re likely talking an extended absence,” Winderman tweeted.
Bosh scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds in the first half but doubled over after a foul from Indiana’s Roy Hibbert with just more than one minute remaining in the second quarter. He began limping and grabbing his midsection and after he fell to his knees, the Heat subbed him out and he went into the locker room. Bosh was scheduled to have an MRI exam after the game.
Without a true post presence in their starting lineup, the Heat moved Bosh from his more comfortable perimeter into the paint at times during Game 1, and Bosh responded by shooting 6 for 11 from the floor . In his stead, centers Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf combined for 13 points and 10 boards off the bench — but neither is a full-time solution if Bosh misses time.
LeBron James (32 points, 15 rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (29 points) carried the load once again, dwarfing the play of Indiana’s shooting guard/small forward duo of Paul George and Danny Granger (13 combined points on 2-of-15 shooting).
The Pacers also need their perimeter stars to step up. Granger’s 1-for-10 shooting performance simply won’t cut it, but Indiana Coach Frank Vogel acknowledged the task of guarding — and being guarded by — James could limit his offensive production.
“We are going to have to get him better shots,” Vogel said. “I do not know if he is going to have a huge offensive series, especially when he has to guard LeBron James for 38 minutes. That takes a lot of your offensive game.
“Obviously LeBron is the MVP of the league because he is the best defensive player in the league as well. So that has something to do with it as well.”
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