Back for some home cooking, the HEAT hope to turn it up against the Pacers. Tune in at 8:30 tonight.
Saturday night at 8:30 PM in the AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat will host the Indiana Pacers for Game Three in their best of seven series. After this contest, the two will stick around for Game Four on Monday at 8:30 PM before heading back to Indiana for Game Five.
We're all familiar with the story this far. Miami got to the third round by winning eight of nine against the Charlotte Bobcats and the Brooklyn Nets, while the Pacers needed a combined 13 games to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards. The Heat dropped Game One by a 107-96 margin before bouncing back for an 87-83 decision in Game Two on Tuesday night.
Going into more detail on Game Two reveals Dwayne Wade again leading the Heat, with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting with five rebounds and five helpers. LeBron James pitched in with 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals, and Chris Andersen led the way with 12 rebounds and a game-high plus-25 rating. Wade and James combined for half of their output in the deciding final frame, accounting for Miami's final 20 points.
For Indiana, Lance Stephensen had 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting with seven dimes and six boards, Roy Hibbert had a dozen points and 13 rebounds, and Paul George scored 14 with six assists and five rebounds in the losing effort.
LeBron James addressed the media after the game:
However the game presents itself, I just try to take advantage of it. I needed to do something in the fourth. I was able to get some good looks for guys in the third quarter but I needed to make a few buckets to help us in the fourth quarter and I was able to come through for us.
Delving a little further into the box score shows that Miami's bench was key. The five starters combined for a minus-39 rating, while the four guys off the bench (Birdman, Norris Cole, Ray Allen & Shane Battier) combined for an impressive plus-59 rating despite only scoring 20 points between them. All of the Pacers had plus/minus ratings in the single digits, except for CJ Watson, who finished at minus-13 in just 13 minutes on the floor.
I said before Game Two that Miami needed to take at least one on the road to get the upper hand in the series. Although that's common sense, Miami went out and did the job. All there is to do now is win every home game - a recurring trend this season between these two clubs (with the exception of Game Two, of course).
Game Time: 8:30 PM
Betting Line: Miami by 6 1/2, O/U 183
December 18th - HEAT 97, Pacers 94
March 26th - Pacers 84, HEAT 83
April 11th - HEAT 98, Pacers 86
May 18th - Pacers 107, HEAT 96
May 20th - HEAT 87, Pacers 83
This day in HEATstory
Miami has won two-of-four on May 24th throughout history, including one-of-two against the Pacers over the last two seasons.
In 1997, the HEAT dropped a 98-74 match to the Chicago Bulls to go down three-games-to-none in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals. Although Miami won Game Four, the Bulls took game five and defeated the Utah Jazz in six games for the NBA Title.
In 2011, a much different Miami squad defeated a much different Bulls team, 101-93 in overtime to go up three-games-to-one in the best-of-seven ECF. They also won Game Five before losing in six contests to the Dallas Mavericks.
2012 would see the HEAT earn a deciding Game Six win over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, 105-93. They went on to defeat the Boston Celtics in seven and the Oklahoma City Thunder in five for their second NBA Title.
Last year on this date, Miami lost Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals to this (mostly) same Pacers team, 97-93. They eventually won in seven, and also won the Finals in seven against the San Antonio Spurs.
Probable Starting Lineups
|PG - George Hill
|PF - David West
|C - Roy Hibbert
|SF - Paul George
|SG - Lance Stephenson
What 2 Watch 4
Indiana has played much better than we would have given them credit for just two months ago, or even two weeks ago. Still, even using only half of the bench, Miami has been able to match them straight up. As long as Dwayne Wade continues to defy Father Time and his tired knees, and LeBron James continues to be the best player in the world, it's going to be hard going for these Pacers to get over the hump.
Lance Stephenson mentioned before the series that he would do his best to wear down Wade, by trying to irritate and inflame his knees. It hasn't quite worked out for him yet. Wade's 50 points through the first two games lead all other players involved in the matchup, and it still remains to be seen if he can keep up the pace. Luckily, the HEAT have other options. They haven't even used Micheal Beasley or James Jones, both potent threats that would be much further up the rotation on most other rosters. And watch Ray Allen, I'm kinda feeling a Jesus Shuttlesworth revival cooking for tonight.
Always use Hot Hot Hoops to keep you up to date on all happenings in HEATland. SB Nation also has a second-to-none Pacers blog, over at Indy Cornrows if you'd like to see how the other half lives.