Game 2 Eastern Conference Finals Preview (Schedule, TV, Game Vitals): How Will Indiana Respond After Crushing Series Opener?

NBA Playoffs Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat
NBA Playoffs Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat
May 22 2013 Miami FL USA Miami Heat small forward LeBron James 6 drives to the basket as Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George 24 defends during the second half in game one of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena Miami wins in overtime 103 102 Steve Mitchell USA TODAY Sports

Game 2 Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat

When: Friday, May 24th
Time: 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami, FL)
Status: Miami leads 1-0

With a late lead on Wednesday night, it appeared the Indiana Pacers would jump out to a 1-0 series lead against the Miami Heat. That dream quickly faded (in 2.2 seconds, to be exact), when Lebron James took an inbounds pass and drove to the basket to give the Heat the win.

All eyes will be on Indiana on Friday night to see how they respond from the heartbreaking defeat. Game 2 may not quite be a must win, but let’s be honest – it’s difficult seeing any team take four out of five games against the juggernaut Heat. Indiana needs to play as if the series is on the line.

The Pacers must keep the clamps down on Miami as they did for a half on Wednesday. In that Game 1, Indiana held Miami to only 37 first-half points as they took a five-point lead into the break. The Heat broke free a bit in the second half and sent the game into overtime.

Stopping Lebron James is nearly impossible, but the Pacers can do other things to keep the Heat out of rhythm. In particular, Dwyane Wade has been far from invincible in the playoffs. The guard has been hobbled a bit by a knee injury and was subpar in the Heat’s first two series’ against the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls. For the playoffs, Wade is only averaging 13.7 points per game while making 47% of his shots. Those numbers are significantly down from his regular season totals of 21.2 points per contest and 52% shooting. In Wednesday’s game, Wade scored 19 and for Indiana to win the series, they’ll need to keep him closer to his postseason numbers.

The Pacers also need more from their starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson. The duo has been fairly solid in the postseason, but had only 12 points and shot less than 20% from the field. As I mentioned in the post-game wrap-up, they contributed as Stephenson led the team with 12 rebounds and Hill’s seven assists were a team-high as well. But 88 minutes simply has to result in more than 12 points.

One impressive thing the Pacers did was playing competitively in the extra period. Many teams would fold after giving up a second-half lead on the road, but Indiana not only hung in the game, but nearly won it. The loss was deflating to be sure, but that mentality could mean they give the Heat another tough game on Friday.

For Miami, the task will be to again get a big performance from someone on their bench. The starting lineup will always contribute for them, but getting a boost from a reserve makes them nearly unbeatable. In Game 1, that lift came from Chris Andersen, who was 7-7 from the field for 16 points, five rebounds, and three blocks. The rest of the bench struggled mightily as Shane Battier, Norris Cole, and Ray Allen combined to shoot only 2-16 for nine points. Without Andersen’s performance, the Heat could be staring at a 1-0 series deficit.

On the injury front, Miami guards Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers are a little banged up. Wade has been playing with the aforementioned minor knee injury and Chalmers has an injured shoulder. You can almost guarantee Wade will again suit up since he’s been playing hurt for many games now. According to ESPN, Chalmers participated in the team’s walkthrough on Thursday and will be checked out on Friday prior to the game. Both are listed as day-to-day. Indiana is not believed to have any significant injuries. David West sat out part of Monday’s practice early in the week, but he was plenty healthy in Game 1.

Friday’s game will tell us a lot about the series. A Miami win could be too insurmountable for Indiana to overcome. But if the Pacers come out with a victory, not only is the series still alive, but they would gain the edge with home court advantage.

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Anson Whaley
Anson Whaley is a freelance writer with more than 16 years of experience. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Mr. Whaley has also been a credentialed member of the media for various events. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');

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