Indiana (23-14, lost last two) @ Chicago (30-9, won last two)
* 102.87 points per game (2nd in the NBA) vs. 93.8 points allowed per game (11th)
* 48.5% FG (1st) vs. 42.5% FG allowed (6th)
* 42.41 rpg (14th) vs. 39.64 rebounds allowed (2nd)
March 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) goes in for a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
*21.13 apg (14th) vs. 15.05 TO pg (18th)
* 95.24 ppg (15th) vs. 92.14 points allowed (9th)
* 42.8% FG (25th) vs. 42.7% FG allowed (8th)
* 43.95 rppg (4th) vs. 42.95 rebounds allowed (25th)
* 17.92 appg (29th) vs. 14.51 TO pg (11th)
PG-Darren Collison vs. Mario Chalmers
SG-Paul George vs. Dwyane Wade
SF-Danny Granger vs. LeBron James
PF-David West vs. Chris Bosh
C-Roy Hibbert vs. Joel Anthony
Miami-Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole, Shane Battier
Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones, George Hill, Jeff Foster
Injuries of note
Indiana-Jeff Foster (back, out)
There’s not much to say about this matchup other than the Heat are better, they’ve easily beaten Indiana twice now by a combined 50 points and tonight’s matchup doesn’t look promising. Miami first handed the Pacers a 35 point beatdown without Dwyane Wade. Then last month beat up on the Pacers by 15, but the game wasn’t as close as the final score looked. Coming off of two losses, it looks like nothing short of a miracle will keep that skid from hitting three tonight in South Beach.
As you can probably surmise, the Heat do nearly everything well. They aren’t a particularly great rebounding team, but that is in some part due to their freakishly high, league-leading field goal percentage, which results in very few offensive rebound opportunities. It’s hard to pinpoint any other team-wide weaknesses. Individually the Heat are not the biggest and toughest on the low block, and their depth is suspect, but they held big Roy Hibbert in check in the last meeting; the All-Star center scored only 10 points to go along with 5 rebounds.
The Pacers have a lot to get up for. They’ve gone from a 3 seed to a 5 seed in the Eastern Conference in literally two losses. This playoff seeding swing reflects the madhouse-type atmosphere that is the mid-tier Eastern playoff race. The Pacers are in the midst of the most brutal stretch of their season, and a win vs. Atlanta this week would have gone a long way toward making the team feel more confident in the face of the current adversity. Unfortunately Indiana came up short, and their reward is a date with the Conference’s second best team. Luckily Indiana is well-rested, so they may be able to keep it closer than we’ve come to expect so far this season, but counting on a win seems naive.
Prediction: Heat 109, Pacers 97
Miami is tied with Oklahoma City and the Lakers for the best home record in the league. They have two losses on the year at home. Don’t expect that to change tonight.
No surprises for either team. Be wary of all Pacers, but then, you normally are. Even Hibbert gets a yellow light tonight if you have a better option.
Lucas Klipsch FTW. Follow him on Twitter @LukeNukem317