Two games in.
What do we know?
Indiana wants no part of the mad May Miami march to the championship. Instead they plan of posing a huge challenge.
Paul George is not only ready to shine, he wants to shine brighter than any other player on the floor. This series is another riveting chapter in the coming out novel he wrote this year. We also know that Roy Hibbert is a legitimate pro option at center and there is not a player on the Miami roster that can stop him.
Indiana has at times looked dominant in the first two games. The way that they pack the paint defensively and pose constant obstruction to James, Wade and Bosh is a joy to watch. Miami is living and mostly dying by the jumpshot.
Offensively, Hibbert and West seem to relish pounding every interior Heat defender presented to them. There is a focus on inside play both in word and deed. Indinana is committed to controlling the paint on offense and defense.
What else do we know?
Dwyane Wade will have to find the grit to perform at a high level somehow, someway in this series. The Heat need him. IF he is healthy, All NBA, Finals MVP “Flash” needs to make an appearance in the next two games.
Miami paid a lot of money to have 3 of the 10 best players in the league on the same team. How apropos that players 4-10 must show marked improvement in Indiana for Miami to wrest control of this series away from the Pacers. Where is Rashard Lewis? Mike Miller? James Jones? How can Udonis Haslem contribute? Joel Anthony? Eric Spoelstra has such a short rotation that I think it is hindering his ball club more than it is helping.
If Miami is to finally have stretches of dominance they have to shoot well from distance. If the perimeter shooting is not there then the Heat is forced to continue trying to score in a congested paint area. It doesn’t matter who your Big 3 are, such a task carries very little chance at success.
How will Miami contend with Indiana’s advantage thus far on the interior? Chris Bosh is poised to have a breakout game. I also think the stage is set for a classic LeBron monster contest. 35-9-9 is coming in one of these road games for the MVP.
Indiana has to back down in them. I anticipate another solid showing from Paul George as he is averaging close to 25 a game. I also think George Hill has a signature performance at home.
It will be close. It will be spirited. Between this game and the next I see the series shifting back to South Beach tied 2-2.