Heat, Pacers Rematch: What’s Different This Year?
This time it was the Eastern Conference semifinals and the Pacers had the homecourt advantage and a 2-1 lead in the series against Miami. Game 4 was the turning point as the Heat’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade said not so fast to the deficit and led their team to take the next three wins and eventually the Championship.
What will we see this year?
Well, things are different. First, the Heat has Chris Bosh back in the lineup while Dwyane Wade is battling a sore knee. He recently didn’t sound too confident that a seven-day game break would be the answer to his problems.
The Pacers are still using their size advantage and defense to win games and challenge teams. But their leading scorer from last season, Danny Granger, has been virtually nonexistent for this season as he continues recovering from a knee injury. All-Star Paul George has stepped into his place, garnering an All-Star nod from his play.
Both teams will enter the series with confidence, the Heat knowing they’re the reigning champions while the Pacers have previously defeated this team in the regular season and took care of the New York Knicks pretty easily.
Recently Bosh said of the match up via Sports Illustrated, “It’s going to be beast.”
This comes from the player who left after the first half of the Game 1 in last year’s playoff series thanks to a strained abdominal muscle. He was out for the rest of the postseason but upon his exit for at least in that first game, the Heat still won.
In the second and third games, the Pacers took the wins and some of it came from their outrebounding of the Heat by 26. By the series’ end, they had a seven-rebound edge over them but the Heat rallied in the last four games and defeated them with a combined 19 on the boards.
For this year, the rebounding will need to continue for the Pacers to have a chance and in their earlier meetings this season against the Heat, they still had it, outrebounding this opponent by 11 rebounds per game, reported the Miami Herald.
But this didn’t take place just against the Heat, the Pacers also led the league for rebounds this season while the Heat had the distinction of the last place team for this.
Defense has also been a strength for the Pacers but they’ll also have to score in this series. Last season without Bosh all over him, Pacers Roy Hibbert had a 12.3 point and 11.5 rebound average–a personal best for him in the playoffs.
He outplayed the Knicks Tyson Chandler in the last series and will enter this one confidently.
So will other Pacers who know they can score against the Heat. In the Jan. 8, 87-77 win, George scored 29 points while David West scored 30 points in the Pacers’ Feb. 1, 102-89 victory.
Putting Tyler Hansbrough on the free throw line is a good thing. In the regular season against the Heat, he had 5.3 attempts in 13.7 minutes per game, reported Sports Illustrated.
In the end, you have to like Pacers coach Frank Vogel’s attitude toward the series. He said via Fox59 News, “It’s not about getting back at Miami. When you’re in the final four you’re competing for a championship and they are just the next team that is in our way and that’s how we’re approaching it.”
The Pacers enter the series as the underdog as the Heat sit at -700 to win it while they are +450.
A Game 1 Pacers win would give them a great mental advantage but the Heat will take it (-8, 182.5 o/u).