The avalanche of Pacers turnovers began early — bad passes here, offensive fouls there — in all, 15 of them in the first half.
Those miscues were disappointing but not entirely surprising, considering that had been an issue for Indiana all season.
But here’s what was surprising, and among several factors that doomed the Pacers in Game 7:
• The Heat handled Indiana on the boards — no joke — after being outrebounded by 105 in their previous nine meetings since January.
Not only did the Heat close with a 43-36 edge on the boards, but Miami dominated on the offensive glass, 15 to eight. Nobody could have seen that coming, not after the taller Pacers grabbed 82 offensive rebounds in the first six games, compared with 59 for the Heat.
• Paul George couldn’t rise to the moment, and Roy Hibbert didn’t do much when the game was still close. Both entered the fourth quarter with as many combined turnovers (six) as field goals.
George delivered a clunker: seven points — well below his 21.5 series average coming in — and three turnovers. He entered shooting 50 percent in the series but made just 2 of9 attempts Monday. And he fouled out with 7:43 left and the Pacers down 21.
Hibbert padded his numbers with the Heat well ahead, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds after a four-point, three-rebound first half. He entered averaging 22.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in the series.
Trailing by 15 at halftime, the Pacers committed six turnovers in the second half to close with 21.
But they couldn’t overcome poor shooting (40.6 percent for the game) or the Heat’s tenacity on the boards. Amazingly, Wade had more offensive rebounds (six) than the entire Pacers team (five) through three quarters.
Chris Bosh, who had 22 rebounds in the first six games, closed with eight.
The Heat was the more aggressive team, and the free-throw differential reflected that. Miami was 33 for 38 from the line, the Pacers 14 for 20.
What’s more, the Pacers could never establish an offensive rhythm, certainly not for any sustained period. Because they committed so many first-half turnovers, Indiana managed just 30 field-goal attempts (making 13), compared to 45 attempts for the Heat before intermission.
The Heat had a lot to do with the turnovers, pressuring the Pacers more than previous games by frequently double-teaming. On side pick-and-rolls, Miami often quickly doubled off the catch. Heat defenders were simply more active and quicker in their rotations than any time previously in this series.
The Heat also pushed Indiana’s big men farther away from the basket. On one sequence, David West tried to dribble into better post position on Chris Andersen, but lost his footing and the ball, leading to a Heat fast break. West had a team-high five turnovers, all in the first half.
Facing frequent double teams, Hibbert took only two shots in the first half and played as if he felt rushed. He committed his fifth foul with 2:09 left in the third and the Pacers down 17.
Hibbert was more aggressive to start the second half, scoring on a spin move. But he had a layup blocked by Bosh, who was very active defensively, and threw his hands up in disgust when he missed a jumper.
Off a 28-point performance in Game 6, George was largely ineffective, shooting 1 for 6 in a five-point first half and 1 for 3 in the second half. One big factor: James guarded him for much of the game — an assignment Dwyane Wade handled for a good part of the series.
Also problematic for the Pacers: George Hill closed 4 for 14, with two turnovers.