The Indiana Pacers capitalised on home-court advantage for the first time this season in the playoffs to beat the defending champions Miami Heat in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals 107-97 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday evening.
Indiana led for the entire game and never allowed Miami to make a charge. George Hill scored the first five points of the game with the Pacers stretching the lead to 20-10.
The Heat tried to rally back in the game and reduced the deficit to 30-24 and 41-37 in the second quarter, but Lance Stephenson scored four straight points to increase the lead. Late in the second quarter, LeBron James scored back-to-back points for the Heat, but the Pacers scored five straight points to close the first half 55-45.
David West and Roy Hibbert opened the second half by scoring eight points for Indiana. Dwyane Wade and James tried to cut the deficit and made it 83-74 early in the fourth quarter. The Pacers played well on both sides of the court and closed the game with a 7-0 run late in the game.
"There's nothing to celebrate. It's not like we won a championship. It's one game," Hill said. "Yes, it was good, but if we come out and lay an egg on Tuesday, this game doesn't mean anything."
James finished the game with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Wade scored 27 points, Chris Bosh ended with nine points and two rebounds and Ray Allen had 12 points for the Heat.
"The game's still so fresh. It's too hard to just say, 'Well, we need to do this better in Game 2,'" James said. "We need to evaluate our mistakes and things we did in Game 1 first before I can say what we need to bring to Game 2."
Hibbert continued his good form and racked up 19 points and nine rebounds, Stephenson finished with 17 points and eight assists, while Hill added 15 points for Indiana.
Paul George said the team needs to continue their winning momentum in the second game at home as well. "We've been complacent many times. We just can't get complacent," George said. "We've got to stay humbled off this win and come in with the same mindset that we have to get another one."