The final few seconds of regulation were stunning, with Ray Allen — the sixth-best free-throw shooter in NBA history — missing one that proved big, and George making a miracle happen.
Trailing by two with 17.7 seconds left, the Pacers had to foul Allen, who surely would have been their last choice. But he missed one of the two free throws, and it remained a one-possession game. Indiana brought the ball into the frontcourt, called time, and then seemed to have nothing really working as the final seconds of regulation ticked away.
So George simply made something happen, extending the night of drama to the tie the game late. Allen didn't get much of a desperation shot off at the end of regulation, and to overtime the teams went.
"It took an overtime to get it done," Spoelstra said. "Glad to get that one."
The Pacers kept landing the first punches in the extra session. George made a pair of free throws to open the OT, and Andersen tied it with a pair of his own. Hibbert scored from close range, and Wade answered with an easy one after a runout for the 16th tie of the night.
George was far from done. He went past James, got into the lane, tossed up a shot after contact and started what became a three-point play that put the Pacers up 99-96. Miami had three chances at the tie — a desperation 3-pointer by Shane Battier as the shot clock was expiring, then a 3-point try by Bosh and another 3 attempt by Battier.
But Bosh grabbed the rebound of the last Battier shot that bounced off the rim in that sequence, scored while being fouled by George with 49.7 seconds left, calmly swished the free throw and the teams were — what else? — tied again at 99-all.
James scored on a drive with 10.8 seconds left in the overtime, and George answered with the three free throws. With Hibbert on the bench, Indiana had one plan for James on the last play.
"We wanted LeBron to shoot a jumper right there," George said.
The Pacers couldn't make that happen.
And after 3 hours, 18 minutes, it was over.
"We're excited about the win," James said. "But we have to get better going into Game 2."
NOTES: Celebrities in attendance included Jimmy Buffett and Anna Kournikova. ... James picked up two first-quarter fouls for just the ninth time in 125 career playoff games. ... West's 18 first-half points were his most before halftime since March 24, 2011, when he had 20 through two quarters against Utah. ... From the not-often-seen department, a lane violation against the Pacers that led to James getting a second (and successful) chance on a missed free throw, and a 5-second call against Wade, both of those coming in the first half.