Series Preview: Heat/Pacers

Jan. 4, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket as Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) defends the play during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Regular Season Meetings (4)

January 4 - Indiana @ Miami

After a back and forth 1st quarter, the Heat locked down defensively. They ran up and down the floor to outscore the Pacers 33-12 in the 2nd quarter. They traded punches coming out the half, but Miami sealed the deal with a commanding final quarter and the victory, 118-83.

Miami was simply rolling on all cylinders, shooting 52% without Dwyane Wade. Five Heat players scored in double figures, led by LeBron James: 33 points, 13 assists, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. Chris Bosh added 22 of his own.

Roy Hibbert hustled for 16 points and 12 rebounds in a losing effort, and the Pacers were held to 34% shooting. Indiana shot more free throws going 30-39, while Miami was an efficient26-28.

Feb. 14, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers power forward Tyler Hansbrough (center) is fouled by Miami Heat small forward Shane Battier (31) as Heat shooting guard Mike Miller (13) defends at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

February 14 – Miami @ Indiana

This time the Heat jumped all over Indiana from the start. They were up 68-39 at halftime, maintaining that lead throughout the 3rd quarter. The Pacers doubled the Heat in the final quarter of play, but the game was already out of hand. Miami was on a mission, resulting in a 105-90 win on the road.

Both games thus far, Miami has out-rebounded the Pacers and shot 50% from the field. The big three set the tone and did their thing, and it always helps when your bench is playing at a high level as well. They contributed 42 points and the team hit 38% behind the arc.

Indiana basically padded their stats in the 4th quarter trailing 90-58. Six players reached double-figures, but they couldn’t connect from downtown shooting at 13%.

March 10, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (front) celebrates with small forward LeBron James (back) after Wade scored the game-winning three-point basket to defeat the Indiana Pacers at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

March 10 - Indiana @ Miami

The Pacers took an early lead in South Beach and carried that into halftime, where Mike Miller left the game from a sprained ankle. After a defensive 3rd quarter where Miami edged Indiana, the Pacers clung onto the lead by a point. Indiana was playing great team basketball, and LeBron James took over to send the game to overtime with a 3-pointer followed by swarming defense. In the extra period, Chris Bosh made his presence felt and Dwyane Wade drilled a jumper with 0.1 seconds left for the win, 93-91. What a physical and defensive battle, they went to overtime and barely topped 90 points.

Of course James and Wade guided Miami, combining for 55 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and 5 steals. The Heat crashed the boards for a 50-40 advantage.

Again, Indiana had five guys with double-digit scoring. But again, they struggled to put the ball in the hoop and were limited to 38%. Danny Granger led the team with 19 points and David West notched a double-double.

March 13, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) laughs with Indiana Pacers point guard Darren Collison (2) and Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Portland 92-75. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

March 26 – Miami @ Indiana

The final meeting of the season and a possible playoff preview at the time, Indiana finally got revenge and beat the Heat 105-90. Ironically, the same score the Heat won with in the second contest. They clashed and exchanged leads throughout the first half of play. The Pacers came out hot to open the half, creating a 13 point and answered every Miami run.

Wade and James tallied 48 points and 14 boards, with Bosh contributing 14. Miami went to the line 37 times and shot well from long distance. Chalmers was a gnat with 3 steals and scored 13. The Heat shot 42%, the lowest of the 4 games.

The Pacers hustled for a wide 49-33 margin on the glass, finally getting the best of their counterpart in the lane. Granger and Darren Collison injected energy with 45 points. Granger crashed for 9 boards and Collison hounded 4 steals. A big key to the game, they made 10 threes and shot 46% overall.

March 26, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh (1) is guarded by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) and Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Miami 105-90. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

Playoff Series

Miami is the odds-on favorite. Not only to win this series, but to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals. The Heat have the best 3 players in this matchup, as well as home-court advantage. Miami has multiple guys that can carry the load, and they have a couple go-to guys. Everyone knows their role and this team is elite defensively.

Many like the Pacers to give a valiant effort in this series. There is a wide belief that they can pound the ball inside and win the battle on the interior on both ends of the court. Roy Hibbert certainly poses a mismatch, but his teammates need to hit the long ball when he gets swarmed. Miami struggles to defend beyond the arc, and the Pacers score collectively.

May 26, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Miami Heat former player (left) shakes hands with owner Micky Arison (middle) as head coach Erik Spoelstra looks on after game five of the eastern conference finals of the 2011 NBA playoffs against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Heat won 83-80. Mandatory Credit: Nam Y. Huh/Pool Photo via US PRESSWIRE

Prediction

In the first round, Indiana dropped game one at home. Orlando played without Dwight Howard and stormed back to score the last 11 points of the game, stealing a win on the road. Since then, the Pacers refocused by winning the next four games convincingly.

Miami matched up against a talented but battered Knicks teams. They nearly got the sweep, but New York got a game at home before getting closed out with ease. Miami was on a mission, and South Beach is the toughest place to play in the NBA.

I can’t give you bold if I don’t believe it will happen. We give you insight with basketball intelligence, not for the attention. Could it go 6, maybe 7 games? Sure, that’s why they play the game and this will be a very physical series. That’s what the East is all about. Not much surprises me with all the great things we’ve been exposed to in the sports world, but I expect the Heat to put their stamp and the Pacers on notice.

Miami beats Indiana in 5 games.

Indiana is a tough, up and coming group, but Miami has been there, done that. The Pacers don’t have that one guy to step up, and I don’t think they have enough offense to hang around. The Heat have big time players to get past a stout Pacers defensive unit. Miami’s defense is one of the best, they get to the charity stripe consistently, and they get easy buckets on the fastbreak where they rank second to none.

Topics: 2nd Round, Eastern Conference, Indiana Pacers, May 2012, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, Playoffs, Postseason, Regular Season Matchups, Series

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