Five takeaways from Game 7
The Pacers season concluded Monday night in Miami, as the Heat used a second quarter surge to stranglehold the game and thus the series. In a season that started poorly, 3-6, the Pacers overcame bumps in the road to win a division title and compete for the conference title for the first time since 2004. Below are five takeaways from the Pacers’ 99-76 Game 7 loss in Miami:
1) The Pacers have nothing to be ashamed about. They took the defending champions with a handful of Hall of Famers to the brink. It was a great series that had basketball fans wanting more. There were highs, like Paul George’s dunks or Roy Hibbert’s post presence, and there were lows, like all the careless turnovers and Hibbert’s comments that cost his $75K.
2) Experience showed. This Heat group faced elimination in the conference finals last season against the Boston Celtics and once again they came away with a double-digit victory. They shined in the spotlight while the Pacers were still getting adjusted to the light. They are a resilient group, that won 17 of 20 times this season following a loss. That’s toughness.
3) Miami blocked out and attacked the glass, knowing they couldn’t be outrebounded by 20, like in Game 6, or even by double-digits. Defensive rebounds were even but the Heat were +7 on the offensive glass, where they scored 22 points by making the extra effort. They also penetrated the lane and forced the issue. LeBron James scored 15 points at the foul line, one more than the Pacers.
4) Dwyane Wade finally came to play. After limited contributions in each of the first six games, he was 7-of-16 from the floor, scored 21 points and went after loose balls better than anyone on the court Monday night. On this night, Wade forgot about his bruised knee and just played.
5) Paul George will learn from this experience. He has made tremendous strides this season, becoming an an All-Star and being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player and to the All-Defensive Second Team. By the end, he looked a little run down after playing nearly 38 minutes per game this season and handling the opponent’s best player night in and night out. After a month into the season, he brushed the weight of carrying the team without Danny Granger off his shoulders took over the heavy lifting. Just one month ago, he turned 23. His ceiling is extremely high.