14th May, 2012
Newly crowned NBA Most Valuable Player, MVP, LeBron James got his trophy, and made sure the Miami Heat got a win against Indiana Pacers in their Eastern Conference semifinal series Game 1, yesterday.
James scored 32 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in his first game as a three-time MVP, Wade finished with 29 despite struggling from the floor, and the Heat beat the Pacers 95-86 to open their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Sunday.
Chris Bosh scored 13 points for Miami, but left late in the first half with a lower abdominal injury and did not return, with the Heat saying he was scheduled for an MRI to determine the extent of the problem. The Heat outscored Indiana 25-16 in the fourth, with Wade and James combining for 22 of those points.
“It’s a battle and we know, regardless of being at home, being away, who we’re playing, what round, it’s tough to win in the playoffs and you have to fight for every single possession,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And that’s what it was.”
David West and Roy Hibbert each scored 17 points and combined for 23 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 10 points each from Darren Collison and George Hill.
“I thought we were just on our heels a little too much,” West said.
The Heat never led by more than two until 9:20 remained in the game, when a layup by James gave Miami a 76-72 edge. Wade added another basket about 30 seconds later, and the margin eventually reached eight when James made two free throws with 7:52 left.
Wade and James scored 20 straight Miami points in the fourth, a string ended by a free throw from Joel Anthony with 1:05 left. After Hibbert missed a jumper on the next Indiana possession, James connected with 31.8 seconds left for a 95-86 Miami lead, and it was soon over.
“Definitely not our best game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t shoot it very well. … It came down to execution in the fourth quarter and you’ve got to give credit to Miami’s defense.”
“I don’t know if he’s going to have a huge offensive series,” Vogel said. “When you have to guard the MVP for 38 minutes, it takes a lot out of your offensive game.”