Pacers Might Be the Team to Give Heat Trouble
All year long it has been the assumption that if any team is the Eastern Conference is going to give the Miami Heat a tough playoff series it would be either the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics or Chicago Bulls. But as the regular season winds down, it appears like the best team in the East other than the Heat is the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers are in a virtual tie with the Knicks for the second spot in the East at 38-23. They have without much fanfare gone about their business and opened up a four game lead in the NBA Central on the Bulls. Does anyone know anyone who plays for the Pacers? Only the hardcore NBA fans know Paul George and George Hill. Some NCAA fans might know that Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert play for the Pacers. You don’t see any of these guys on the nightly SportsCenter highlights.
This team is flying under the radar, but this weekend they will have a shot at the limelight as they will travel to Miami to try and stop the Heat’s 16 game win streak (which should reach 17 after they pound the Philadelphia 76ers tonight). Do not be shocked if the Pacers win that game.
The Pacers have something the Heat have trouble with, size. Miami is not a big team and therefore not a good rebounding team. With Hibbert and Hansbrough pounding the glass, this could give the Pacers an advantage.
Basketball has turned into a smaller man’s game in recent years. But for decades it was a game of big men playing in the paint. Many teams won many championships with tall centers and forwards, so the Pacers have history on their side. If they can use their size advantage to hold the Heat to one shot per possession and get multiple second chance buckets themselves, they could win this one.
This is also something that could translate into a tough seven game playoff series. Height does not go into a slump. Size does not vary from game to game. Dwayne Wade or Lebron James might have an off-shooting night in a seven game series, but Hibbert is not going to shrink two inches in Game Four.
So rather than counting on the Celtics, Knicks or Bulls to be the team to give the Heat a hard time, and one of them could, take the Pacers as the team most likely to give Miami some trouble. A Pacers-Heat playoff series would likely go at least six games.