I want to start off with some thoughts and info from the Christmas Day victory over the Knicks. The game in New York was very similar to the home game against the Blazers last week. The only difference was that the Heat was the team that elevated their game as the game grew older, outplaying the home team in the 2nd half and coming away with the win. The Heat have now won four of their last five and are 3 games above .500 for the first time since December 1st.
When the Knicks made their late run, Miami turned up the D and got some very key stops. Even though D-Wade had an amazing 2nd half, scoring 20 of his 30, he was trying to do a little too much down the stretch instead of keeping his teammates involved, and missed several ‘lazy' long J's. Here are my game notes, and after the jump will be my pre-game for Sunday's matchup against the Indiana Pacers.
GAME NOTES (from Friday)
- Carlos Arroyo was called for palming the ball in the 1st quarter, his first turnover in the past 7 games. Mario Chalmers has 14 turnovers in that span.
- Three-point shooting was atrocious, to say the least. At halftime the Heat were shooting 2-of-10 and the Knicks were 2-of-16. The Heat would only attempt two shots from beyond the arc in the 2nd half (both misses), but the Knicks would take another 12, finishing the game 5-of-28.
- One of the better games from D-Wade in a while. Not just for the solid stat line (30 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals), but he drove the ball much more then in recent memory, hitting 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. The 7 made free throws are the most he's had in the last 6 games.
- Michael Beasley rescued his game in the 4th quarter. Towards the end of the 3rd he was a dismal 3-for-10 from the field (coming off his 2-of-10 game against the Jazz), but finished the game 7-of-16 for 19 points. He only had 2 rebounds though, and has just 7 in the last 2 games.
- Mario Chalmers was Mr. Free Throw, taking two technical foul shots and hit 4-of-6 in the final 23 seconds to keep the Knicks at bay. He finished 9-of-12 from the foul line.
- Gotta give some props to Jermaine O'Neal. You could tell that he wasn't at full strength, but still toughed out 11 points and 8 boards in 24 minutes.
- The Knicks finished with a season low 11 assists and at one point missed 16-of-17 three pointers.
Shifting our focus to tonight's game, the Indiana Pacers come to Miami fresh off a home loss to Atlanta on Saturday. As I mentioned earlier, the Heat have won 4 of their last 5 games, their best stretch of games since going 6-1 to start the season. That being said, Miami is still fresh off a very mediocre (at best) 3-3 homestand and are just 1 game over .500 at home (9-8).
The Pacers have been really struggling since losing Danny Granger to a torn right plantar fascia. They've lost 5 straight and 6 of their last 7. As if that wasn't bad enough, things have been worse away from home where the Pacers have lost 4 straight and 10 of 11. The Heat will hopefully have a much healthier Jermaine O'Neal in the lineup, with the center being slowed recently by a tweaked right groin.
Dwyane Wade has been slowly picking up his game. He's increased his scoring output in 5 consecutive games, averaging 26.2 ppg in that span. Unfortunately, he still isn't driving the ball as much as I'd like and is still taking a few too many of those long, line drive jumpers. It's hard to be so critical of Dwyane because he is so good, but he sets the bar pretty high for himself, so why should I be any different?
- This is the 2nd of 4 meetings between the Heat and Pacers. The Heat won the first one 93-83 in Indiana on October 30th led by D-Wade's 32 points.
- The Pacers are 3-3 this year on the 2nd night of a back-to-back.
- Also, Indiana is just 1-10 when trailing at the half on the road this year.
- While the Heat get to miss seeing superstar Danny Granger, they will get to face Mike Dunleavy who missed the first meeting between the two teams.
- Since allowing 118 points to Memphis at home on December 13th, the Heat have held opponents to just 88 points/game.
Another awesome Sunday late-afternoon 6pm tipoff. As if the usual ‘way late arriving crowd' isn't bad enough, today the Heat get to compete with a home Dolphins game as well. I realize the Fins game is at 1, but I still think that there will be a decent amount of people skipping the Heat game after sitting in the sun for three hours. The reasoning behind these early games on football Sunday's baffles me.