Game 1 between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers was a back-and-forth thrill ride, culminating in LeBron James' game-winner in overtime. What does Friday night's Game 2 (ESPN Radio, 7:30 ET) have in store? Our panel weighs in.
1. What do you expect from the Pacers in Game 2?
Tim Donahue, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: More of the same -- tough defense, inefficient offense. This Pacers team has learned how it competes at a high level and how it doesn't. It's still susceptible to dead spots offensively, but I think it will continue to do everything in its power to make the Heat earn what they get.
James Herbert, Hardwood Paroxysm: They should deal with Miami's aggressive defense a bit better. All of their ball handlers looked even shakier than expected throughout Game 1 and, after watching the tape, should have a better idea of how to use the Heat's pressure against itself.
Aaron McGuire, Gothic Ginobili: As a collective, the Pacers are a poor ballhandling team -- one of the reasons George Hill is such an asset to them is because of his dependable handles. Ever since Hill suffered his concussion, though, he's been sloppy. For Game 2, Hill will have had more than a week of recovery time -- I expect he'll play better, and Indiana's tepid offense will improve in kind.
Michael Wallace, ESPN.com: More of the same in terms of pushing the Heat all the way until the game's final minutes. It'll be hard to replicate Paul George's miraculous three-point plays in the clutch or Frank Vogel's late-game coaching gaffe from Game 1. But the Pacers believe they can stand up to the Heat and will do their part to provide another thriller in Game 2.
Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: I expect another strong performance. The Pacers took the Game 1 loss hard; being in their locker room and seeing guys staring into space, it was almost like their season was over. But their spirits were much better Thursday. I think their coaches got them to realize some positives from their play. Mostly, I expect their backcourt to play better, especially George Hill after a phantom Game 1.
2. What do you expect from the Heat in Game 2?
Donahue: Miami is capable of winning by playing Indiana's game, but the Heat are better off when they can spread the Pacers out defensively and turn them over offensively. I expect to see more spread pick-and-rolls and more attacking the basket while aggressively pressuring George Hill and the Pacers bigs at the other end.
Herbert: Better performances from their floor spacers. As good as Indiana is at defending the 3-point line, Ray Allen and Shane Battier shouldn't have combined to shoot 1-for-12 from the field and 1-for-8 from behind the arc in the opening game.
McGuire: It's rather unlikely that the whistles will be quite as free-flowing as they were in Game 1. Given that, I'd expect the Heat to err on the side of physicality on the defensive end to try to keep Indiana out of its offensive flow. More minutes for Chris Andersen seem inevitable, as well as a few more of those open 3-pointers dropping.
Wallace: A much better start than they had in Game 1. For the second time in as many series, the Heat opened Game 1 with uncharacteristic turnovers and by scoring just 37 points in the first half. This also happened in a Game 1 loss against Chicago two weeks ago. Now that there are games every other night, expect the Heat to be in more of a rhythm early.
Windhorst: Much fewer turnovers. Those miscues really bailed out the Pacers, especially several times when the Heat botched interior passing plays where they got Roy Hibbert to do exactly what they wanted. I would also watch Shane Battier closely when he's in -- there's plenty of interesting stuff happening with him in these games.
3. What's your take on Roy Hibbert's accusation against Shane Battier?
Donahue: It's a sideshow. Battier's knee was unorthodox enough to probably be intentional, but it's difficult to say it was malicious. This type of thing -- along with the reductionist nonsense surrounding Vogel's decision to leave Hibbert on the bench -- is largely a distraction. Probably means nothing to Miami and nothing good to Indiana.
Herbert: Hibbert's right. If you lead with your knee like that, you're trying to give yourself more space, and you're not particularly worried about what happens to the rim protector. Battier might not have meant to hit anyone below the belt, but it wasn't exactly an accident.
McGuire: I don't think he's wrong, necessarily. I doubt Battier was really aiming the knee when he brought it up, but there's no doubt in my mind that stretching the knee was premeditated -- it either dissuades Hibbert from a strong contest on that individual shot or it hits him and makes him think twice about his straight-up contests going forward. Win-win for Miami.
Wallace: Hibbert is justified in his frustration. Let's just say Shane's intentions weren't completely pure and clean as he extended the knee on that drive to the basket. But it's hard to believe Battier was purposely aiming for, um, the most sensitive of all areas in that instant. I don't expect this feud to linger between two of the nicer guys in the NBA.
Windhorst: Knowing Shane, I don't assume anything he does on the court is an accident. His transition to power forward has been remarkable, and he's had to develop a bag of tricks because he doesn't have the size or ability to match his opposition straight up much of the time. But he also resorts to trick plays, baiting and flopping. And he's pushing the envelope further and further because he has to. Also, he's not shooting the ball well, and I think it may be frustrating him.
4. "Heat in 6" was a popular pick. How does that prediction look now?
Donahue: Still seems solid. LeBron remains the best player in the game -- by a wide margin -- and in a five-man sport, that's a huge difference-maker. The Pacers responded well in Game 1, especially to Miami's 12-2 run to start the third, and they do present the Heat with matchup problems. However, their offensive difficulties likely will keep them from overcoming the Heat's advantages.
Herbert: It looks fine. The rationale for "Heat in 6" is that the Pacers play Miami tough, but the Heat just have too much firepower. Game 1 showed that Indiana can indeed hang with them. It also showed that James can carry Miami to a win with underwhelming performances from every role player except Chris Andersen.
McGuire: It looks reasonably solid, although I'd like to see Miami playing on Indiana's home court before we really assess whether a road closeout still makes sense. This Indiana team is significantly better than last season's edition that the Heat dismissed in six, and the Pacers are a much stronger home team than they used to be. We need to see how the game changes in Indianapolis.
Wallace: Same as it did before Game 1. Miami won on its home court. The Pacers played like a true contender who deserves to be in the Eastern Conference finals. Both teams emerged from Game 1 more confident about their chances of winning the series. Could this series go the distance? Absolutely. But Heat in six is still the safe pick.
Windhorst: I feel pretty good about it. You have to understand the Pacers are a great -- and I mean great -- team at home. Some of their young players look totally different in that environment, especially offensively. No matter what happens in Game 2, I won't change my belief this will be a long series.
5. Who will win Game 2?
Donahue: Probably -- but not definitely -- the Heat. I expect the Pacers to respond well to what was a gut-wrenching loss on Wednesday night. However, the Heat are at home, and the Pacers haven't traveled well this season, so the home team gets the nod.
Herbert: Heat. The Pacers were fortunate to be in position to steal a road win on Wednesday. That was likely their best chance. Like all games in this series, though, it should be close, and it should be physical.
McGuire: Pacers. I don't anticipate it'll be a blowout either way, but the Heat have been playing some relatively sloppy basketball during this year's postseason and their lack of urgency is going to cost them a game at some point. The Heat are obviously favored, but I have a feeling that the bite-back game happens tonight.
Wallace: The home team. If Battier and Allen are going to emerge from their shooting slumps, it's likely to happen Friday night in the comforts of American Airlines Arena. Their play will be the difference in the outcome of another closely contested game. But the Heat get just enough done to carry a 2-0 lead into Indiana.
Windhorst: Heat. I believe they will play better and more efficiently and win without needing last-second heroics. They dealt with rust again in Game 1 -- it just wasn't as bad as last time. The Pacers are great at defending the 3-pointer, maybe the best in the league, but I still expect the Heat's 3-point shooting to be more of a factor this time.
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Michael Wallace and Brian Windhorst cover the NBA for ESPN.com. Tim Donahue, James Herbert and Aaron McGuire are part of the TrueHoop Network.
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