Game #55: Miami Heat (39-15) vs. Indiana Pacers (24-28)

.....I don't know.

After seeing their 8-game winning streak snapped on Sunday in Boston, the Heat now get to play a road back-to-back that will take them into the All-Star break.  They'll get things started tonight in Indianapolis against a Pacers team that starting winning much more frequently when the calendar flipped over to February.  They lost 7 out of 8 in late January but since then have turned it completely around, winning 7 of 8. 

At first glance it seems as though the Pacers are doing a good job of turning things around and making a push for a spot in the post season.   When I looked at their schedule to see who they had been beating during this streak of good games, the list wasn't overly impressive.  Now I'm not saying that Indiana hasn't in fact started playing better lately, because as we Heat fans know, good teams are supposed to beat the bad ones.

The true difference maker for the Pacers was making a change at head coach.  They fired Jim O'Brien and promoted assistant coach Frank Vogel, and that's when the turnaround occurred.  O'Brien was fired on January 30th and the next day was the 1st win in their 7 out of 8 streak, with the only loss coming last Tuesday against...the Heat.  Indiana is also scoring almost a full 10 points more under their new coach, upping their average from 97.8 to 107.6. 

This is the one and only time the Heat will visit Indiana this season. It's funny how much difference a couple seasons can make, because it wasn't that long ago when Miami couldn't buy a win at the Conseco Fieldhouse.  Heading into last season the Heat had lost 14 consecutive visits to the Pacers' Place; 17 if you include the playoffs.  Last year things finally changed in Miami's favor as they won both games in Indianapolis, and that's a streak they'll try to keep going tonight. 

GAME NOTES

  • LeBron James has averaged 34.9 points in his last 7 games against the Pacers.  He put up 41 when the teams met last week. 
  • The Heat has more wins on the road (19) then Indiana does at home (15).
  • Indiana has scored at least 100 points in every game Frank Vogel has been the head coach for. 
  • Miami has won 5 of their last 6 games against the Pacers.
  • Back in November when Indiana beat the Heat, Dwyane Wade had one of the worst nights of his career.  He shot 1-for-13 from the field, finishing with just 3 points.
  • Both teams are 8-2 in their last 10 games. 
  • Udonis Haslem (foot) remains out for the Heat.
  • Though it's not NBA related, I thought I should mention that Dexter Pittman suffered a knee injury on Saturday.  At first it was thought to be minor, but early Tuesday morning Pittman tweeted out that he was going to have surgery on Wednesday.
  • As for the Pacers, Danny Granger (neck) and Brandon Rush (ankle) are probable.

Tipoff from Conseco is set for 7pm.  The game will be broadcast nationally on NBA TV. 

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