Sometimes the difference between a win and a loss is as slight as a brush of the wrist.
With time expiring in overtime, James took his team on his shoulders once again and drove to the lane past Indiana Pacers forward Paul George to drop in the game-winning bucket as the game clock hit triple zero, boosting the Heat to a thrilling 103-102 victory.
It was the superstar’s first game-winning overtime bucket since 2009, via ESPN Stats & Info:
Those last 2 shots by LeBron were his 1st game-tying or go-ahead shots in final 24 sec of playoff game since his 2009 buzzer-beater vs ORL.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 23, 2013
The Miami Heat relayed James' post-game reaction on the game-winning play:
.@kingjames on the game-winner: I was able to have enough time where I could get to the basket and make a play.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 23, 2013
LeBron: Shane (Battier) gave me a great pass. I saw (the defender) leaning and I just took off.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 23, 2013
James turned in his typical playoff performance in the contest, tallying 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks in 47 minutes on the court. But as impressive as his final stat line was, those two points defined his performance.
It was fitting that James beat George to the hole on the final play of the game. The Indiana forward twice put the Pacers on his shoulders, first with a 32-footer to send the game to overtime and again prior to James’ game-winning bucket with three clutch free throws to give Indiana a one-point lead.
Unfortunately for George, his contributions were overshadowed by his final defensive collapse in the waning seconds of the game.
Game 1 was a fitting preview for the remainder of the series, though. Despite Miami’s torrid pace in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Indiana showed it won’t go down without a fight in the conference finals.
If the opening contest is any indication, fans are in for a tremendous playoff series from the final two teams standing in the Eastern Conference.