I Think I Left My Clutch Gene At Home Today

When your team wins you get all the accolades, and when your team loses you get all the blame. Thats how it works in superstar land. Today, Lebron James is shouldering 100% of the blame for Friday night’s loss. It was an enormous loss for James and the Heat as the Indiana Pacers secured home court advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers will travel back home with their confidence at an all time high after coming within inches of stealing both games in Miami. The biggest question after their heartbreaking Game 1 loss was how would they respond? Well I think we all found the answer to that question. The Pacers stayed true to themselves and they continued to highlight their strengths on the floor. They stayed physical with Miami, they used their length and size on the defensive end, and most importantly they utilized Roy Hibbert early and often. In turn he responded with another career game in these playoffs. He put in 29 huge points while grabbing 10 rebounds. While Hibbert was a big part of their victory, the Pacers showed that you don’t need to rely on one superstar to win. The Pacers starters all scored in double figures and their bench only contributed 5 points. This shows you how balanced they are, and that they all subscribe to the “team” concept. At the same time I must not overlook Paul George’s effort last night. He is truly solidifying his ranking as one of the best all around players in the NBA. He has the daunting task of guarding Lebron James, and at the same time is being asked to contribute 20+ points every night. Yes, Lebron’s stat line was godly (as it always is), but when it mattered most what did “king” James do? To find out you gotta keep reading…

With the game on the line, Lebron committed two consecutive turnovers!! Ouch!! This was not one of his brighter moments. The first turnover was really bad. Let me set the scene for you: George Hill had just knocked down two clutch free throws to put the Pacers up 95-93 with 48 seconds left. As Lebron brought the ball up he attempted to lob a pass over David West across the top of the key. Instead West stuck his arms up as if he were a cornerback who didn’t turn back to play the ball and stole the ball. The Pacers went on to turn the ball right back over on a shot clock violation. So despite the Pacers trying their darnedest to give another game away, Lebron just wanted to not win it even more. He got the ball just inside half court with the clock running down. Everyone was holding their collective breaths wondering if Lebron could pull some more heroics out of his you know where, but NOPE. He drove the lane and attempted to swing the ball outside, but the pass was intercepted by George Hill. Hill calmly walked down the floor and knocked in two more clutch free throws. This put the game nearly out of reach with the Pacers going up by four with 8 seconds to play. Chris Bosh threw up a last effort 3-pointer but it missed and the Pacers held on to win 97-93. Now in just 48 short minutes the momentum has completely shifted and there is a new question to ask today. How will the defending champion Miami Heat respond to losing on their own floor in the playoffs? I, like most, think that the Heat will still win this series, but Indiana is a difficult place to win basketball games. The road to the finals has been slightly tilted uphill for the Miami Heat, and now it is their turn to stare adversity in the face. To see what happens in the next chapter of this story, tune in to TNT on Sunday @ 8:30 p.m.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

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