An unusual mini-vacation presented itself between Games 2 and 3 as both the Heat and Pacers have been off since Tuesday night trying to game-plan and recuperate for a pivotal Game 3. Indiana took Game 1 at home with a 107-96 win behind balanced scoring, but the Heat earned an 87-83 tough win last time out as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade outscored the Pacers in the fourth quarter.
Despite the win, that was the third time this season the Pacers have held the Heat under 90 points, something they rarely do. In Game 2, Paul George suffered what was later announced a concussion, but is expected to play in Game 3. For the Heat, Greg Oden practiced this week in Miami, and could possibly be used over the weekend.
Norris Cole and Chris Andersen played a huge role down the stretch and could see more playing time than usual if they continue to be effective. Andersen had 14 points in Game 1, and 12 rebounds in Game 2. Norris Cole defended Lance Stephenson, who only scored 2 points in the fourth quarter, after going for 23 in the first three quarters.
The Pacers will make adjustments, we just aren't sure what they are. Their bench, touted as improved and effective, has been anything but in this series. In fact, the Pacers played four of their starters 40+ minutes in Game 2. Only David West was less at 34 minutes and that was due to foul trouble. They'll need more from Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and possibly Evan Turner, who hasn't played in this series, to have a chance in Miami.
The Heat shouldn't count on Scola continuing to miss jump shots, as that has been his staple. They also can expect a much better David West, as he seems to thrive in Miami. The Heat can hopefully expect a better Chris Bosh, who hasn't scored in double figures yet in this series. The Heat are in good shape, but they can't relax against the Pacers. Despite their struggles, they play their best basketball against the Heat.
Look for LeBron James to have more dominant games at home. So far, he has been held to pedestrian point totals, and we all know that he is capable of much, much more. In fact, when you think about it, MIami split the series without Bosh being himself, or LeBron going off. But they have had a really good Wade, and we can't expect that to continue, although we hope that it does.
The Heat have won five straight home games this postseason, but the Pacers have won 5 straight road games as well. One of those will break on Saturday night.
"While you play with great comfort and confidence at home, you still have to put together a great basketball game, and it has to be with all the things we continually talk about: the effort, the disposition we brought the other night." -- Erik Spoelstra
Game 3 is a pivotal game, with the winner in position to take a commanding lead in Game 4 on Monday night.
Coverage on ESPN begins at 7:30, with the game at 8:30. Make sure to check back here for our GameThread and join us in the conversation.