MIAMI (CBSMiami) – While the majority of the focus of the thrilling Heat victory in Game 1 will be on LeBron James’ incredible play at the end of the game, there’s another player who was just as key to the Heat getting the win to open the series: Chris Andersen.
Andersen set a career high with field goals made and points by going 7-7 and scoring 16 points in the Heat’s 103-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Andersen managed to do all of that while playing just a little more than 18 minutes and also pulling down five rebounds.
Six of Andersen’s seven shots were assisted including three by LeBron and two by Dwyane Wade. Andersen was constantly open as the Pacers collapsed in to clog up the lane that Wade and LeBron love to attack.
Andersen’s fire and personality on the court has been one of the biggest changes for the team in the second half of the season. His ability to elevate above the rim on both ends of the court has helped give the Heat a much needed extra dimension under the basket.
And Andersen has been playing absolutely lights out for the entire Heat playoffs run. Adding in Andersen’s 7-7 shooting night in Game 1, the Birdman is shooting 29 for 35 in the playoffs, or an astonishing 83 percent.
Since Andersen joined the Heat, Miami has almost been unstoppable and has won 46 of their last 49 games dating back to the regular season.
James summed up Andersen’s impact on the Heat thusly after Game 1, “Without Bird’s energy and effort, we don’t win this game,” according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.