It is the beginning of the end of the 2014 NBA Playoffs with the Conference Finals taking center stage. Last year’s final four teams are at it again, duking it out for a shot at NBA glory. While the heavyweights in the West await tip off on Wednesday night, the underdog Indiana Pacers failed to secure a 2-0 series advantage over the reigning champions last night.
Game 2 is probably the most important game of any playoff series, especially for the away team. Whether you win or lose Game 1, winning the next game provides the momentum swing that could shape the rest of the series. Coming off an 11-point loss earlier in the week, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored Miami’s final 20 points and fueled the Heat to a 87-83 win.
The Pacers were ahead for much of the game; after that, LeBron James and the fourth quarter happened. James added 12 of his 22 points in the fourth. Even though the Pacers fully anticipated the takeover, there wasn’t much they could do to slow down James’ intensity. Indiana’s interior defense seemingly vanished during the final 12 minutes, leaving a lot of “what ifs” to conclude Game 2.
James and Wade thrived late. With only six first-half points, LeBron showed up in crunch time the way true champions do. On the other side of the court, Indiana’s superstar Paul George got off to an even slower start. After racking up 24 points in Game 1, George shot only 1-for-11 in the first half of Game 2. Tuesday's shining star for the Pacers was Lance Stephenson, who finished with a game-high 25 points and provided much of the excitement to the home crowd in Indianapolis.
In a frightening moment in the fourth quarter, Paul George’s head collided with Dwyane Wade’s knee after going after a loose ball. Wade writhed on the court in obvious pain while George laid face down, apparently unconscious. George finished the rest of the game after passing the concussion protocol, though he admitted to “blacking out” and played through symptoms of blurry vision. Head coach Frank Vogel insisted that his star player is “good to go” for Saturday’s Game 3.