Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Pacers have played well against the Miami Heat this season, but the playoffs are a different animal.
There is no doubt the Heat are the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, if not the NBA Finals, so the Pacers' road to a championship runs through Miami.
Miami is dealing with injuries at the moment, or it may just be rest, who knows. Either way, everyone expects the Heat to be at full strength when the playoffs begin.
The Pacers do have the advantage on the inside against the Heat, although some of that advantage was negated with the signing of Chris Andersen.
Andersen brings a grittiness to the table the Heat were lacking, but still fouls at a ridiculous rate to have much of an impact—seven fouls per 48 minutes. Andersen gives the Heat size next to Chris Bosh, though, and can always be counted on for high energy off the bench.
Still, the rest of the Heat will have trouble slowing down Roy Hibbert and David West on the inside. Bosh doesn't have the length to guard Hibbert, so the big man cannot be passive on offense.
Bosh is better suited to guard David West on the perimeter, but with the Heat going small, he is forced to guard Hibbert. Indiana should slow the game down and pound the ball inside against Miami if they want to have any chance.
Even with their advantage inside, the Pacers will still have trouble slowing down LeBron James.
Paul George should be able to contain him, but there are so many other things LeBron does well to make his teammates better. With shooters like Shane Battier and Ray Allen on the outside, if the Pacers defense converges on LeBron, he has no trouble dishing it to them.
Both he and Dwyane Wade are not shy attacking the rim, which can get Indiana in foul trouble, negating their size advantage. Hibbert fouls a lot, as does Ian Mahinmi. If either are to get in early foul trouble, the Pacers could be in trouble.
Indiana does have the size and athleticism to match up with the Heat and is very capable of pulling the upset. Beating the Heat in a seven-game series is a lot to ask of this young team, though, especially if LeBron plays the way he did in last year's playoffs.