GAME RECAP: Pacers 113, Heat 107

Victor Oladipo scores a game-high 23 points to go along with 5 assists as the Pacers get the win over the Heat, 113-107.

Postgame 180325

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 113, Heat 107

Victor Oladipo scores a game-high 23 points to go along with 5 assists as the Pacers get the win over the Heat, 113-107.
Mar 25, 2018  |  00:02

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - March 25, 2018

March 25, 2018 - Pacers players Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, and Thaddeus Young reacted to Indiana's 113-107 overtime win over the Heat on Sunday evening at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Mar 25, 2018  |  02:35

Oladipo Splashes from Deep

March 25, 2018: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 25, 2018  |  03:51

Thad Drops the Hammer

March 25, 2018: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 25, 2018  |  03:28

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - March 25, 2018

March 25, 2018 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan speaks with the media after Indiana's playoff-clinching 113-107 overtime win over the Miami Heat on Sunday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Mar 25, 2018  |  06:48

Vic Spin Cycle

March 25, 2018: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 25, 2018  |  03:28

Postgame: Heat Locker Room - March 25, 2018

March 25, 2018 - Heat assistant coach Dan Craig and Dwyane Wade spoke about coming up short in overtime in Indiana.
Mar 25, 2018  |  01:37

Lance Steal and Slam

March 25, 2018: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 25, 2018  |  03:05

Lance Drives and Finishes

March 25, 2018: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 25, 2018  |  02:54

Lance Finds Bojan Backdoor

March 25, 2018: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 25, 2018  |  02:40

Vic Breakaway Jam

March 25, 2018: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 25, 2018  |  02:24

Pacers Find Comfort in Stressful Moments

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

They had talked all along as if making the playoffs was a mere signpost on the road to a better destination. But after Sunday's playoff-clinching overtime victory over Miami, a loud roar went up from the locker room during coach Nate McMillan's postgame address.

Were they really that excited about it? Had they been bluffing?

Nah.

"They get to wear sweats on the plane tomorrow," McMillan explained.

That was the Pacers' immediate reward for qualifying for postseason play with eight games left in the regular season. The four-hour flight to Oakland is a long one, and comfort counts. McMillan usually demands business casual attire on flights, wanting his team to look professional, but for one of the few times all season he made an exception.

"Thankfully!" Cory Joseph said. "Thankfully! On a long flight like this, sweats will be amazing, man. It took making the playoffs. If we didn't win today, we might have been in a suit.

"We feel honored."

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Pacers' Playoff Push »

Joseph was laughing when he said that, just one of a dozen or so players making jokes and shouting at one another across the locker room following their 113-107 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The victory nudged their record to 43-31 heading into the season's home stretch — wait, make that road stretch — in which they play six of their final eight games away from home, and kept them in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, percentage points behind Philadelphia.

It was accomplished in appropriate fashion. For one, it was yet another "by committee" victory, with a wide variety of timely contributors. For another, it was another one of those uneven performances when they played well only when they absolutely had to.

They trailed by 14 in the first quarter but fought back to take a six-point lead in the final minutes of the second quarter, only to squander that with casual and sloppy play that allowed the Heat a one-point halftime lead. They were sharp in the third period, taking an eight-point lead on Glenn Robinson III's 3-pointer with 22.2 seconds left, but apparently it was getting too easy for them.

They came back with a putrid fourth quarter, hitting just 5-of-15 shots and committing nine turnovers. But they were brilliant in an error-free overtime, hitting 6-of-9 shots, including 3-of-4 3-pointers.

Their bad habits could come back to haunt in them in the playoffs, but for now they've provided one of the most thrill-packed regular seasons in franchise history.

"We've got to get better," McMillan said. "Tonight, we were a little sloppy in our execution."

"That's the character of our team," shrugged Joseph, who finished with eight points, a career-high 10 rebounds, and seven assists. "We have to be better at staying level. It's our first year together, but that's no excuse."

Consistency can wait. For now, it's far better for the Pacers to be careless and untidy when cruising along than to lack poise in the most stressful moments. They are 3-0 in overtime games and 10-1 in games decided by three points or less this season, and it's not by coincidence.

They proved that again on Sunday, when everybody came together to produce an overtime period in which they scored 17 points, three more than in the fourth quarter.

Thaddeus Young, the steadiest Pacers player with 22 points, nine rebounds, five steals, and three blocked shots, opened the team's scoring in overtime with a rebound basket.

Darren Collison followed with a 3-pointer on a kickout from Myles Turner.

Young followed with a dunk on another feed from Turner.

Victor Oladipo hit a well-defended 3-pointer from 25 feet a split-second ahead of the shot clock buzzer on the next possession, following Turner's block of Goran Dragic's layup.

Following a Miami timeout and field goal that kept the Heat within four points, Collison answered with another 3-pointer off Oladipo's assist. And then, on the Pacers' next possession, Collison hit a step-back jumper over 7-foot Kelly Olynyk's outstretched hand for a seven-point lead with 22.7 seconds remaining.

Bojan Bogdanovic grabbed two rebounds during the overtime, contributing to his season-high total of eight, and closed the scoring with two free throws with 8.1 seconds left.

That completed the circle, with all five starters making major contributions in overtime.

Collison had missed his first four shots of the game but hit all four after halftime — his only attempt of the third quarter and three in overtime. His perfection on two 3-point shots raised his league-leading percentage to .457.

"I was not in a good rhythm at all," he said.

"My teammates were talking to me throughout the whole game, in particular the closing minutes. They were kind of predicting the moves I make. I always go to a certain move toward the end. Overtime is a whole new ballgame and I was able to make plays."

Young did, too, including one in the fourth quarter that was easily forgotten amid the flurry of overtime plays. He raced downcourt after Turner lost possession to Olynyk in the Pacers' halfcourt and rejected Olynyk's driving layup attempt out to midcourt, preventing the Heat from tying the game with 3:15 left.

"I thought I wasn't going to get to him," Young said of Olynyk. "If he had taken a straight-line drive he would have got the shot up. He kind of veered off and and I said, 'OK, I can get it now.' I basically chased him down and took a swing for the fences. When I jumped up I saw my guys at halfcourt, so I said, 'OK, I'm going to try to get this ball to halfcourt.' To try to get us a break started. It worked out."

Miami eventually did tie the game, and took a lead as well, but it was yet another clutch play.

It takes more than skill and athleticism to make so many crucial plays late in a game. Intangible elements must be in place as well, and the Pacers must surely lead the NBA in those qualities.

"Great group of guys, man," Collison said. "Everybody is great people. It's one thing to have great players, but I've been on a lot of teams. When you play with great people, it makes everybody's job easier. Everybody's listening. Nobody has egos. You come in the locker room and everybody's smiling. It's positivity. It's a long season. The positivity on this team keeps you going forward; that's why we have success."

It makes for a comfortable locker room. Comfortable flights, too, no matter what they're wearing.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," covers the formation and early seasons of the franchise. It is available at retail outlets throughout Indiana and online at sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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