INDIANAPOLIS – If momentum can change on a dime in the NBA Playoffs, than the Pacers had a shot to put a quarter in their pocket on Tuesday night.
Already with a convincing Game 1 victory under their belts from Sunday, the Pacers had the chance to go up two games in a series against the Heat. That had yet to happen to Miami’s vaunted big three since they have collectively showcased their talent in South Beach in the summer of 2010.
With a win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night, the Pacers would force the two-time defending NBA Champions to win four of their next five games to repeat it.
But with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade leading the way late, the Heat kept the Pacers from taking that advantage in the series as they rallied to beat Indiana 87-83 to tie the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
Now both teams will have a bit of a break as the series shifts to Miami. Game 3 won’t be played until Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. at American Airlines Arena.
Lance Stephenson scored a game-high 25 points for the Pacers but was upstaged by Wade and James down the stretch. Wade scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter while James scored 12 as the Heat outscored the Pacers 25-20 to pick up the series-tying victory.
While many expected the Heat to come out with a strong initial push it was the Pacers who played as if they had lost game one. Lance Stephenson had a strong start to the game with nine first quarter points and his layup with 3:21 to go in the quarter put the Pacers up by eight points. But Miami collected themselves by the end of the quarter and cut the deficit to one point after 12 minutes.
Indiana then endured a struggle on offense through the better part of the second quarter with a pair of Rasual Butler three-pointers serving as the bulk of the Pacers offense for nearly ten minutes. While not exactly at their best on offense either, the Heat were able to scrounge together an 8-0 run to build a lead of that amount in the final minutes of the half.
But the Pacers cut the lead in half by the end of the quarter with a quick run of their own and when Stephenson tipped in a lob pass by Paul George with .1 on the clock for the hoop, the Pacers were within four at the half.
An aggressive Stephenson continue to assert himself during a strong third quarter. He knocked down 4-of-7 shots from the field including a driving dunk and an acrobatic layup that added to his ten points and helped the Pacers go up by as many as eight points. But the Heat used a late run to close the gap again and a Norris Cole three-pointer with just over a minute left cut the Indiana lead to one at the end of the third quarter.
The game went back-and-forth for most of the early part of the fourth quarter with the Pacers maintaining the advantage. But Miami started to make their move late, and when Wade followed a James miss with a dunk, the Heat had a five-point lead with 3:17 to go. Wade would hit another layup soon after to put the Pacers out of reach and once again, turn an NBA series on a dime.