Indiana Pacers (20-4) at Miami Heat (18-6)
A nationally televised game a week after defeating the same team they will play again and days after losing their first contest of the season on their home floor, the Indiana Pacers hope to get back to their winning ways at American Airlines Arena in South Beach. You can also purchase Pacers @ Heat tickets here.
Monday night was the first time Pacers head coach Frank Vogel and his players used the term “outworked” to describe the way they played in a 101-96 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. Indiana was dominated on the boards, 55-40, and had all kinds of trouble stopping the Pistons frontcourt from crashing the offensive glass.
Pacers forward Paul George noted the Detroit offense was simply a missed shot followed by an offensive rebound and an easy layup.
That cannot happen tonight versus the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat. It is the rematch from last Tuesday’s game in which the Indiana Pacers trailed for almost 75% of the game until turning the momentum in their favor. Indiana managed to pull away just enough for a 90-84 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Shooting guard Lance Stephenson deemed last week’s contest a “championship-like” game for his Pacers. Miami guard Dwayne Wade and fellow teammates thought differently, stating it was simply “another regular season game.”
Thus is the case tonight. Win or lose for Indiana, it should be a raucous atmosphere on ESPN. Alas, the Pacers should expect the Heat to be more physical in the paint against Roy Hibbert and David West. Hibbert has an obvious history of dominating Miami in the post.
Paul George should also expect more double-teams when he touches the ball. The Heat are feisty on the defensive end and really get out on the break off of their opposition’s mistakes.
The game plan for the Indiana Pacers should be no different than in previous matchups with their Eastern Conference foes: stop Miami’s big three, feed Hibbert and West down low, and win the rebounding battle. Limiting turnovers should also be a topic of conversation for Vogel and Co., as Indiana committed 21 of them in last Tuesday’s game. Thirteen of those came from West (7) and George (6), both of whom looked sloppy the majority of the game.
No question Miami will be much more aggressive tonight. LeBron James may be hobbled by a sprained ankle suffered Monday, assuming he plays tonight. I don’t foresee that slowing him down too much.
Miami wins this one 95-88, the final score being much closer than the game looked.