NBA East Finals Game One Recap

THE NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS REPORT - HEAT SNAGS THRILLING SERIES OPENER IN O.T. WITH LEBRON'S LAYUP AT THE BUZZER GETTING MIAMI OFF-AND-RUNNIN'

By Jim Hurley:

The LeBron Legend grows - with a great assist to "The Birdman"!

Go ahead and dissect the final few seconds of overtime in last night's wild and wacky 103-102 win by the Miami Heat over the 8.5-point underdog Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of this year's NBA Eastern Conference Finals and you can go in a gazillion different directions.

Go right ahead and say that Indiana head coach Frank Vogel - truly one of the best/brightest in the sport of pro hoops - blew it by not having his "rim protector" (that's 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert) in the game for not one two key Heat offensive possessions that turned into baskets including the aforementioned LeBron James lefty lay-up off an inbounds pass that started with a mere 2.2 seconds remaining in the overtime period.

Or go ahead and claim the Heat never/ever should have been put into that hairy win-or-else position while down 102-101 with said 2.2 seconds left - after all, Miami missed nine free throws (shot 64 percent from the foul line at 16-of-25) and that included a key late-regulation clank job from the charity stripe by Jesus Shuttlesworth himself - a/k/a Ray Allen.

The fact of the matter is when you're a 7-to-1 underdog to win a series and you don't come away with Game 1 when it's right there in your side pocket, than that's trouble.

First question of the day here in this particular Jim Sez:

Can the Pacers "recover" and still win this series?

The Pacers' optimist will tell you they still can.

The hard-core NBA realist will tell you the odds of winning four of their next possible six games against the Heat just grew increasingly long - maybe too long.

Let's dig a little bit deeper into last night's Game 1 nail-biter:

NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#1 MIAMI 103, #3 INDIANA 102 (ot)
- Heat leads series 1-0

Plenty to chew on regarding this series opener - and keep in mind these teams are back at it in South Beach on Friday night for Game 2 - but we begin with the strange-but-true fact that in this year's NBA Playoffs there have now been seven games that have gone into overtime and the home team has won 'em all.

Gotta say that not only was Miami thrown out of its rhythm and forced to play half-court offense for almost all of this Game 1 (finished with 11 fast break points on the stat sheet but it didn't even seem as if it was that much!) but the Heat had mucho trouble handling power forward David West (11-of-17 FGs for 26 points) and all his paint moves and in the second half had very few answers for small forward Paul George who awoke from a first-half slumber to finish with 27 points while draining 10-of-11 foul shots.

The Pacers dictated the tempo of this game and forced James to play most of his pre-fourth quarter minutes out on the perimeter and "The King" was rather quiet for a guy who eventually delivered the superstar numbers of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. No doubt James' biggest strength for much of this dog-eat-dog affair was his alert dish-offs to a cutting Chris "The Birdman" Andersen who correctly informed the TNT cast after this game that his job is to bring energy off the bench ... talk about getting "mission accomplished".

Andersen - who became the first Heat player ever in playoff history to bag 7-of-7 field goals en route to a 16-point, 5-rebound, 3-block game - was stupendous on a night when Miami's bench was pretty much good for nothing: as in 2-of-16 from the floor for Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Morris Cole ... and let's not forget both teams were ultra-sloppy with 20 turnovers apiece and we're wondering why Miami boss-man Erik Spoelstra allowed the aforementioned Cole to play so many minutes (28 in all) while coughing up the ball five times. Folks, Cole could have cost Miami the home-court advantage had he just played another three or four minutes ... ugh!

Meanwhile, if Vogel losses any sleep over his choice to sit Hibbert for that last James drive-to-the-rim, than he can justify his position by remembering Hibbert allowed Miami a couple of big-time offensive rebounds when the game was really on the line - so, was Vogel lacking confidence in his big man who played so well in that last series win against the New York Knicks or did the head coach merely think his guys matched up better 'cause George pulled a bonehead move getting out so deep on James and than having the four-time league MVP scoot past 'em?

Hey, good luck getting this now-wounded Indiana team back on track in less than 48 hours!

Maybe Indiana's energy source off the bench --- that's Tyler Hansbrough (10 points and 6 rebs in 12 minutes of feisty action) - can make it happen.

We'll provide out Pacers-Heat Game 2 preview in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.

Here's how the Pacers-Heat Eastern Conference Finals Series has gone so far (note home teams are in CAPS):

DATE

WINNER

SPREAD

LOSER

SCORE

5-22

MIAMI

- 8.5

Indiana

103-102 (ot)

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the Side/Totals winners in these NBA Conference Finals plus there's lots of Major-League Baseball Winners too when you sign up today - so cash in big with Hoops and Baseball each and every day! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.


WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#2 SAN ANTONIO vs. #5 MEMPHIS
- Spurs lead series 2-0; Game 3 is Saturday at 9 p.m. ET
The Spurs-Grizzlies series is taking a little sabbatical here with three full days between games and here's another case of a team trying to get it back on track after an overtime loss - but 0-and-2 Memphis no longer has any wiggle room and heads into Game 3 fully aware that big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have to shoot it better than they did in that 93-89 OT loss this past Tuesday night.

The Grizz stars combined to drain just 10-of-30 field goals and quickly this series is becoming a major nightmare for Randolph whose lack of vertical size in the paint is killing his team here.

A complete Game 3 Spurs-Grizzlies preview comes your way tomorrow but - for now - keep these important Game 2 stats in mind: San Antonio surrendered 19 offensive rebounds in Game 2 and still managed the four-point OT win (note the Spurs collected only four offensive boards) and that has to concern San Ant head coach Gregg Popovich plus the Spurs - thanks to PG Tony Parker - sported 29 assists on 36 made field goals and so the Grizzlies have to disrupt SA's offensive flow here ...

Or this could be 3-and-oh faster than you can say FedEx!

Here's how the Grizzlies-Spurs Western Conference Finals Series has gone so far (note home teams are in CAPS):

DATE

WINNER

SPREAD

LOSER

SCORE

5-19

SAN ANTONIO

- 4.5

Memphis

105-83

5-21

SAN ANTONIO

- 5.5

Memphis

93-89 (ot)

NOTE: Get more NBA Eastern & Western Conference Finals updates in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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