LeBron James won Game 1 against the Pacers in the final moments, with two drives to the basket for scores in the final 10 seconds of overtime.
To say he lost Game 2 in a similar manner would be overstating things a bit, but James did commit two turnovers on consecutive possessions with under a minute to play that ultimately led to the Pacers coming away with the 97-93 victory.
As you might imagine, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t willing to pile on his superstar for those late-game miscues afterward.
“It happens,” Spoelstra said. “They made two good defensive plays with deflections. I would run that again, if I had the opportunity again. So would LJ. That happens. You have to give them credit for the active hands. The possession before, if the ball would have gotten to Ray, I think he would have had a very good, clean look at it. And those are the breaks of the game. We just have to be a little more efficient going down the stretch.
“We had more opportunities than those two, even in transition and a couple of the turnovers and a couple of the looks that we took weren’t necessarily our best opportunities.”
Miami did have additional chances, but obviously things get magnified over a game’s final few possessions. James tried to explain from his perspective what went wrong as he tried to make plays down the stretch.
“First one, Ray came to set a pick‑and‑roll in the first one, and David West basically just put his hands up and he was able to get his hands on the ball,” James said. “A little careless on my part obviously.
“And then the second go‑round, I was able to get in the lane, I spun and I seen Ray once again wide open and I was careless once again. I had the lane for Ray. I maybe should have jump‑passed it over the top. I tried to throw it through the lane, and they was able to get the hand on it again. Can’t happen in that situation. Especially being down two in a big game.”
The second possession was particularly interesting, since it featured Pacers big man Roy Hibbert defensively. Much was made of Hibbert being benched late in overtime of Game 1, but he was there this time. And with Chris Bosh on the strong side where James chose to drive, Hibbert was able to be there to help, which forced James to try to kick it back out instead of trying to make a difficult finish over two defenders.
James finished with an amazing statistical line of 36 points on 14-of-20 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals. But the five turnovers is what he’ll focus on more than anything else as the series shifts to Indiana for the next two games, and while James wasn’t happy with his performance, he promised to atone for his costly mistakes.
“Very disappointing, of course, for me,” James said. “That’s the first thing I always look at on the stat sheet is my turnovers. I had two key ones at a big point of the game. I am very disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch. But I’ll make up for them.”