This was the game the Pacers had to have, nearly had, should have had. They controlled the tempo. They held the edge on the boards. They turned Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat into an MMA muscle-fest, replete with bloody noses, harsh words, knees to the nether regions and flying elbows ...

And still lost.

They had it where they wanted it, how they wanted it, slow and methodical and punishing. They limited Dwyane Wade, kept Chris Bosh under control, led by a point with 2.2 seconds remaining in overtime ...

And still lost.

Miami 103, Indiana 102. In overtime. On a LeBron James drive and layup at the buzzer.

This one hurts.

“This one really hurts,” Paul George said later.

Because it was right there.

Because the Pacers let it get away, and they let it get away in part because of a curious coaching move, one that was more curious than Vogel’s ill-considered timeout in the Knicks series.

Where was Roy Hibbert on those final few Heat possessions, especially that final one when James went to the rim unfettered? It was like Tom Crean taking Cody Zeller out in the dying seconds of the Butler game.

Hibbert is one of the best defenders in the league, a guy the team has touted for the all-defensive team. This is, after all, a team that takes great pride in staying with its big lineup, its staunch refusal to match down to an opponent.

But that’s exactly what Vogel did, saying he feared that a driver would draw Hibbert to the basket and kick out to Chris Bosh for an open jumper.

“I would say we’ll probably have him in next time,” Vogel admitted.

Hibbert made The Block in the New York series. He sat on The Bench in the final minute. It didn’t make sense. It just didn’t.

“I do understand his (Vogel’s) rationale for doing it,” Hibbert said as he looked at his phone and noted all the emails and tweets regarding his strange absence.

But he wasn’t happy, saying he wished he’d spoken up and insisted Vogel put him back in the game.

All of it now raises this question: how in heaven’s name are the Pacers going to beat these guys four times? The Heat are 46-3 in their last 49 games. That’s ridiculous. Except for James and Chris (Birdman) Andersen, they didn’t play great. And still won.