Indiana is done talking about home-court advantage.
The top-seeded Pacers are ready to use it against the two-time defending champs.
They took the first step Sunday, when Paul George finished with 24 points and seven assists, David West added 19 points and seven rebounds, and suddenly surging Indiana led wire-to-wire in a 107-96 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“This is just a fun matchup,” George said. “It’s one that we’ve been waiting for all year.”
For the first time in this year’s playoffs, the Pacers won a series opener. And for the first time in their last three playoff battles against the Heat, the Pacers won Game 1.
Game 2 is Tuesday night. The home team has won all five games in this season’s fiercest and most competitive rivalry, though none was more impressive or important than this one.
All five Indiana starters and backup C.J. Watson scored in double figures, helping Indiana produce its highest point total of the playoffs.
The Pacers limited the Heat to just four offensive rebounds and 6-of-23 shooting from beyond the arc. LeBron James went 1 of 5 on 3s and shot just two free throws, and Miami fell so far behind so fast, it never even had a chance to tie the score.
“There’s nothing to celebrate. It’s not like we won a championship. It’s one game,” George Hill said. “Yes, it was good, but if we come out and lay an egg on Tuesday, this game doesn’t mean anything.”