Don't get me wrong—the Pacers are no pushover. But with five straight wins over Indiana, including three this season, the Heat should be feeling confident tonight.
LeBron James had a rough game against Oklahoma City, as he was outplayed by Durant in virtually every aspect. However, he's averaging 30.2 points and 7.4 assists over his last five games against the Pacers.
Look for him to explode tonight.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
When: 7:00 PM ET, March 26, 2012
Watch: Local channels SUN and FSIN will have the coverage. If you don't get either station, you can watch the live stream online with NBA League Pass.
Listen: The Ticket 790 AM—Miami, ESPN The Fan 1070 AM—Indianapolis
Betting Line: Miami Heat -3
Key Injuries (via ESPN)
Mike Miller (ankle), day-to-day
Joel Anthony (ankle), day-to-day
Tyler Hansbrough (elbow to the face), day-to-day
David West (finger), day-to-day
What They're Saying
Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel noted that the Heat aren't scoring like they used to. They've failed to reach 100 points in 10 of their last 12 games:
[Erik] Spoelstra said it's a result of opponents making postseason pushes, causing an increased level of intensity. He said there was no concern with the low-scoring numbers.
"Things have picked [up] since the All-Star break," Spoelstra said.
"We're seeing a little more playoff intensity from a lot of the teams we're playing. Plus, we're playing of lot of these games on the road. None of these are excuses. When we're able to defend and finish off our defensive efforts with rebounding like we did [Friday], that usually translates into open-court opportunities. Our running numbers were better the other night."
Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the Pacers are well aware of their recent struggles against Miami:
Indiana hopes it can finally beat the Miami Heat for the first time in six tries tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"All we said after the game was that we have to beat Miami; we can't get swept by them," center Roy Hibbert said. "We're definitely thinking about it. It's in the back of our minds that we have to come out stronger than we did the first two times."
Miami Player to Watch: LeBron James
LeBron struggled against the Thunder, putting up just 17 points, seven assists and three rebounds.
While those numbers would be great for most mere mortals, they aren't what we've come to expect from the two-time MVP.
James has owned Indiana in recent years, and after last night's embarrassment on national television, you can expect him to come out with a vengeance tonight.
Indiana Player to Watch: Danny Granger
By most measurements, Granger is Indiana's best player. He's the team's leading scorer (17.3 per game) and has the second highest PER (17.7).
However, he often disappears on the big stage. In three games against the Heat this season, he's averaging a measly 9.3 points per game on 29.4 percent shooting.
If the Pacers are going to challenge Miami, Granger must step up.
Key Matchup: LeBron James vs. Danny Granger
As I just alluded to, this matchup will sway the outcome of the game.
If LeBron shuts down Granger again and puts up his usual numbers offensively, the Pacers have no shot. But if Granger can get hot, this will be anybody's ball game in the closing minutes.
Miami 101, Indiana 92
I'm expecting the Miami to bust out the brooms and complete the season sweep.
They should be hungry and focused after last night's loss, and the odds of LeBron having two bad games in a row are about the same as winning the lottery and getting mauled by a bear in the same day.
Look for LeBron and Dwyane Wade to take over offensively while the Heat's vicious defense clamps down on Indiana's shooters.
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