Several members of the Miami Heat admitted that Wednesday's win over the Atlanta Hawks was like a breath of fresh air. Leading up to that game, the Heat's previous eleven victories had all been very convincing wins, each by at least 12 points. Then the Hawks came to Miami, looking to take advantage of a Heat team that had played the night before.
While the game was a close one, Erik Spoelstra and his team were very pleased by the way the Heat played down the stretch, converting on clutch possessions and getting key stops while the game was hanging in the balance. Not that there was any real concern that Miami would have problems closing out tight games, but after dropping a close game in Utah last week, it was nice to see the Heat covert this one into a victory.
Right now Miami is playing through one of the lighter parts of the lockout-shortened schedule, which has generally had the Heat playing every other night if not one of the numerous back-to-back sets. Their last game was on Wednesday night against the Hawks. Obviously they play tonight against the visiting Indiana Pacers, and then they get another few days off before playing on Tuesday night in Orlando.
So while the Heat have gone through stretches like the one in early February when they played nine games in fourteen days, they're getting a bit of a break in the schedule right now. Following their back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday (both wins), Miami plays just two games in a six-day span. I'm sure the days of rest are welcomed because starting Tuesday in Orlando they'll play five games in an eight day span.
The Indiana Pacers come into this game having their best season in several years. They currently sit in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, a solid nine games above .500. Their record is actually the 4th best in the East, but being in the same division as the Chicago Bulls forces the Pacers to have the best record of the non-division leaders if they want to have home-court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs. They currently sit one game behind Orlando for that spot, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Indiana overtake the Magic and possibly finish as high as 3rd in the Eastern Conference.
- The Heat are 17-2 at home. Indiana is 12-9 on the road.
- Miami has won four straight games against the Pacers, including a 35-point win in early January.
- Indiana is currently on a two game losing streak, dropping games to Chicago and Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
- Before those two losses, the Pacers had won six games in a row.
- Indiana has also lost six straight games to teams that are currently above .500.
- Miami has won 30 games so far this season, with 21 of them coming by double-figures.
- LeBron James finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds in Miami's win over Atlanta on Wednesday, his 4th double double in his last five games.
- It was also LeBron's 17th 30-point game of the season.
- The Pacers are 22-3 this season when holding their opponent to under 90 points.
- Miami continues to boast a clean bill of health, with nobody listed on their injury report.
- As for Indiana, center Jeff Foster (back) is out.
Tipoff from the AAA is set for 7:30. The game will be broadcast locally on Sun Sports.