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VIDEO: LeBron James Wins Game 1

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

LeBron’s layup at the end of overtime gave Miami a 103-102 win over the Pacers.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers turned out to be much more thrilling than I anticipated. Paul George hit an off-balance three to send the game into overtime, and neither team could pull away in the extra frame. LeBron James drove and converted a layup to put the Heat up 101-99 with just 10 seconds left. A questionable foul call on another George three sent him to the line with 2.2 seconds left. George converted all three, and the foul also happened to be Dwayne Wade's sixth.

LeBron had another chance to win the game down 102-101. He received the inbounds pass from Shane Battier, spun around George and got to the rim completely uncontested for the game-winning layup, which you can see above. The score gave LeBron 30 points, and he finished with a triple-double (30/10/10 with three blocks to go along with it) in another masterful playoff performance from the MVP.

VIDEO: LeBron James Wins Game 1

Let's break down a few things of note in this play.

- The biggest thing to note, literally and figuratively, is the absence of 7'2" Pacers center Roy Hibbert. Pacers coach Frank Vogel also had Hibbert subbed out on the previous Heat possession, one that also ended with a LeBron layup. Unless Hibbert had fouled out, which he hadn't, there's no reason for him to be on the bench. He is the best rim protector on the team, and with just 2.2 seconds left what's the point of keeping him on the bench? Tyler Hansbrough, who replaced Hibbert, is more athletic, sure. But that doesn't matter unless he is directly involved with the play. He wasn't. That left the lane completely open for James, who took full advantage.

The fellows at The Basketball Jones memorialized the questionable substitution pretty perfectly with this image:

- Even without Hibbert on the court, the Pacers failed to have one person in the paint on that play. It was a great design by Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to keep the floor spread, but Indiana's overcommitment to pressure man made the play work even better than it should have. The basic shell drill principles of man-to-man defense were abandoned, most notably by Sam Young. With his man (Chris Bosh) floating to the far corner, Young hovered too close to him. He was still in decent help position, but he was also too far away to make a reasonable play.

Outside of that, David West was put on the ball to guard the inbounds pass. I understand you want to make it difficult for the Heat to get the ball in, but wouldn't you want your only real post player on the court in the lane to help protect?

- The biggest defensive miscue was from would-be hero Paul George. Instead of closing out, George raced out to face guard LeBron. James used that momentum against him, easily blowing by the off-balance George to the lane. With a better close out, George could have forced LeBron into a much more difficult shot at the very least.

The Pacers missed a golden opportunity to steal Game 1 from Miami. In the playoffs, you can't let opportunities like these slip away. We'll see how both teams come back from this game on Friday, but I almost expect the Heat to come out guns blazing after this close call.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals!

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