Series Preview, Part 1: Pacers Will Play Heat in Second Round; Game 1 on Sunday at 3:30 pm
It’s official. Pacers. Heat. In Miami. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. We’ll have more pre-series coverage before then but here is a quick rundown of the two teams’ meetings in the regular season.
1/4 - Miami Heat 118, Indiana Pacers 83 – Boxscore
This was just a straight butt-kicking. Indiana actually started off fairly strong and held the Dwayne Wade-less Miami squad basically even for the first 12 minutes. Then the wheels fell off. The Heat pulled away Miami Vice cigarette boat style and thoroughly embarrassed the Pacers. In a juxtaposition that many expect to see continue throughout this second-round playoff series, LeBron James (33 points, 13 assists, 8 boards) completely out-classed his small forward counterpart Danny Granger (2-for-13, including 1-for-7 behind the arc, shooting for 9 points with 4 turnovers)
2/14 – Miami Heat 105, Indiana Pacers 90 – Box Score
Valentine’s Day massacre. Don’t be fooled by the mere 15-point final deficit. Miami destroyed Indiana even worse than they did in their first meeting. Worse still, it was the Heat’s third straight road game in three nights (and their fourth away from home in five nights). Still, with Dwyane Wade playing this time, they may as well have been playing at home on a game-long power play. The Pacers trailed by 32 heading into the fourth quarter. ”Pretty embarrassing,” said Roy Hibbert after game. “They just hit us at the start and we just weren’t able to recover … None of us came ready to play tonight.” The box score agrees: no Indy starter scored 15 points or shot 50% from the field.
3/10 – Miami Heat 93, Indiana Pacers 91 (OT) – Box Score
The Pacers should have won this game. They had it late before two huge blunders by Dahntay Jones allowed the Heat to push it to over time. And it took a virtual prayer by Dwayne Wade for Miami to even win in extended time. The Pacers’ late-game execution was bad and it took some unexpected outcomes from the Heat (turning the ball over 20 times and shooting 20-for-31 — 64.5% — at the line) to be in a position to win late, but they also played very well (hitting 6-for-9 from three-point land in the first half) and jumped out to an early lead. That will likely be a key to this series: playing well early. The Heat can often play as frontrunners. If they sense the opponent wobbling early, they’ll blow the doors off and win by 20 (as Indy knows first hand). But if the team can continually match them blow for blow early, it seems increasingly likely that they will hang around long enough to try to out-close the Heat in the fourth.
3/26 – Indiana Pacers 105, Miami Heat 90 – Box Score
The Pacers repaid the early-season favor: they smoked Miami by pulling away in the third quarter. Something we’ve seen them do all year to even great teams. Danny Granger led the way scoring-wise, but six guys finished in double figures and Darren Collison was stellar on both ends. Roy Hibbert, who had a sick dunk on and a sick swat of LeBron James, made his way to Sportscenter a few times and protected the paint on a night when Indiana caught Miami flat-footed. Paul George hit a shot from 65 feet. Just one of those nights, for both teams. Obviously, this is the model the team will try to follow as it attempts to pull off what would be one of the bigger upsets in recent NBA playoff memory. To do so, it will take the concerted effort of a full, deep team out-dueling a superstar-laden squad of assassins. As Jonny said, “Having three superstars is great and all, but when you can spread the scoring out to nearly the whole team like the Pacers did against Miami it is always more entertaining.” Pacers fans, and legions of NBA fans across the nation, will be hoping to see such entertainment for, hopefully the next four to seven games.