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GAME PREVIEW: Heat return home, host Indiana Pacers

The Miami Heat begin a holiday homestand against the Indiana Pacers but will still be without key players.

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

GAME STORY

Usually returning from a 4 game road trip brings some hope for teams. But the Miami Heat (18-13) are about to enter one of the most interesting matchups of the season so far. They’ll be limping back home and will be without three starters (Butler, Adebayo, and Tucker) and continue to be without key contributors (Martin, Morris, Oladipo, and possibly Herro).

They finished their four-game trip 2-2 with a loss at Detroit on Sunday night. The Indiana Pacers haven’t played since THURSDAY! They’ve had FOUR entire days off before this matchup with the hurt, injured and tired Miami Heat. And that’s not to mention, the Pacers were embarassed the last time they played the Heat who waxed them in Indiana without Butler and Adebayo.

They’ll be ready for some revenge on Tuesday night.

It became clear the Heat, during this time frame, will live and die by their shooting. They put on an other-worldly shooting display for about two weeks and it came crashing down in Detroit. If the Heat are going to win this, they need Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Duncan Robinson to step up.

That’s what this has come to. A return of Tyler Herro will help if he plays. But without Tucker, the Heat will be severely undersized against Sabonis and Turner. Dedmon and Yurtseven will need to stay out of foul trouble and contain those two on the glass. The Pacers have been playing better winning 4 of their last 6 games.

The KEY MATCHUP is not going to be a matchup. It will be a STRATEGY. The Heat will go heavy zone against the Pacers with their lack of depth and their ability to match size. The question will become if the Pacers can exploit the zone or if South Beach will remain undefeated.

The Heat will have to neutralize the Pacers' ability to get paint touches with the zone and hope that they aren’t hot from outside. Indy has three players that shoot 35%+ from deep (Turner, Holiday, and Brissett). Sabonis, Brogdon, LaVert — getting those guys to settle for jumpers is the strategy...the question is will it work for this night? The numbers say to go this way, but anything can happen...especially with such rested legs.

Who gets four days off in the NBA season anymore?

Let’s see what Spo comes up with and let’s hope the Heat can play well on their home floor.

ODDS: FiveThirtyEight gives the Heat a 57% chance to win the game.

HEAT VS PACERS: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21 AT 7:30 PM on TNT.

INJURIES

MIAMI:

  • Victor Oladipo - out (knee; surgery rehab)
  • Markieff Morris - out (whiplash)
  • Bam Adebayo - out (thumb surgery recovery)
  • Jimmy Butler - out (tailbone)
  • Caleb Martin - out (Health & Safety Protocol)
  • PJ Tucker - out (leg)
  • Tyler Herro - questionable (quad)


INDIANA:

  • TJ McConnell - out (wrist surgery)
  • TJ Warren - out (foot surgery rehab)

LINEUPS

Projected Starters

Blazers Position Heat
Blazers Position Heat
Anfernee Simons PG Gabe Vincent
CJ McCollum SG Duncan Robinson
Nassir Little SF Jimmy Butler
Robert Covington PF PJ Tucker
Jusuf Nurkic C Bam Adebayo

BROADCAST INFO

TV: Bally Sports Sun, TNT
RADIO: The Ticket 790AM & The HEAT Radio Network (Jason Jackson, Ruth Riley Hunter)
SPANISH RADIO: WAQI 710AM & The HEAT Spanish Radio Network (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala)

Come back to Hot Hot Hoops at game time to join our GameThread and chat about the game live with other Heat fans!