James Rescues Heat in OT, Miami Takes Game 1

Heat
LeBron James scored the game-winner as Miami beat Indiana 103-102 in OT. (Photo Credit: Isaac Bladizon/Getty Images)

“Welcome to the Eastern Conference Finals,” Heat head coach Erik Spolestra said as he sat at the podium after the team’s 103-102 Game 1 victory.

And what a welcome it was.

LeBron James rescued the Heat in overtime as his running layup attempt at the buzzer sent the crowd, a moment removed from gasping and hand-wringing, into a jubilant celebration. James took the in-bound pass from Shane Battier on the left elbow with 2.2 seconds remaining, and as Paul George overplayed to his right, James attacked left. With Indiana’s defense spread thin to cover the shooters, James found a clear path the basket. His layup kissed off the glass as time expired, giving him only his second postseason game-winning field goal.

“I knew I had time,” James said after the game. “Coach drew up a good play.”

James’ angle to the basket lacked any interior defense from Indiana, as 7’2” center Roy Hibbert sat on the bench. Sam Young, a small forward, had been substituted to cover Chris Bosh, and with the Heat’s sharpshooting big spread out wide, no one was inside to block James’ attempt. Had Hibbert been in there, Bosh would have more than likely been stationed even farther away from the basket, drawing the slow-footed center from the middle.

“That’s the dilemma they present when they have Chris Bosh on the floor,” Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said in his postgame press conference. “We went to a switching lineup.” When asked if he would sit Roy Hibbert in a similar situation going forward, Vogel said: “I would say we’ll probably have [Hibbert] in next time.”

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