Pacers yield home-court advantage

"We know it's not going to be easy, but we'll regroup," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "That's just how it is. We expect it to be a long series, and they're a good team. We didn't expect to sweep them. So this sort of just goes with the territory."

Indiana is now in this position because of its inability to protect its own territory.

One of the most perplexing things about the Pacers has been their Jekyll-and-Hyde tendencies over the second half of the season. Watch them long enough, such as over the course of two games, and you see two completely different versions of the same team.

The same Pacers team that posted the NBA's best regular-season home record at 35-6 already has lost five home games this postseason. The same Indiana squad that exploded for 107 points on 52 percent shooting in Game 1 saw those numbers plummet to 83 points on 40 percent shooting Tuesday.

Indiana coach Frank Vogel credited the Heat for making adjustments and ratcheting up the intensity and urgency, particularly when James and Wade took over down the stretch.

"It's not demoralizing," Vogel said. "We know they're great, great players. They're a great team. They're champs. That's what we expect from those guys because they've been there before."

The Pacers aren't strangers to this predicament, either.

They've squandered these kinds of opportunities before. It was two years ago when the Pacers took a 2-1 series lead over Miami going into Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Instead of pushing the Heat to the brink of elimination, they watched a desperate and wounded tandem of James and Wade dominate the second half in much the same way they did Tuesday.

Indiana didn't win another game that series.

Sooner or later, these Pacers are going to have to prove they can capitalize on opportunities. Or, at the very least, string together two consistent performances and distance themselves from this identity crisis.

"Now, we've got to go on their floor and take a game from them the same way they did," said George, who missed 12 of his 16 shots and had three turnovers. "We gave this one away, so we have to work even harder on their floor. We just made some plays down the stretch that cost us. It happens. We were in control for 44, 45 minutes of this game."

Those other three or four minutes were hazy as the Pacers tried to figure out what hit them.

It was a blur disguised as James and Wade.

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