Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Heat

Jan. 4, 2012 at AmericanAirlines Arena
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Miami

By Conrad Brunner

SCOUTING THE PACERS: After opening the season with five consecutive games against teams that were in the lottery last season, the Pacers (4-1) now get their first test against an elite contender. Indiana had its best offensive game of the season in a 108-94 victory in New Jersey Monday, posting season highs in points, field goal percentage (.526), 3-point percentage (.619) and assists (26). Paul George broke out of a two-game funk with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting that included 5-of-5 from the arc and Danny Granger made three treys as the wings continued to produce from long range. George and Granger have combined to hit 22-of-44 (.500) on 3-pointers but are just 27-of-82 (.329) inside the arc. Darren Collison continues to play well at the point, with 36 assists against just 11 turnovers and George Hill has found his groove off the bench, averaging 13 points on 53 percent shooting in the last three.

SCOUTING THE HEAT: After starting 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, the Heat dropped a 100-92 decision at home to Atlanta Monday night as the Hawks employed a zone defense to fuel a 33-21 fourth-quarter surge. The point total was a season low for Miami, which still leads the league in scoring (106.7) and field goal percentage (.512). LeBron James leads the way with averages of 29.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists. With Dwyane Wade (18.8 points, 6.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds) and Chris Bosh (18.3 points, 8.2 rebounds), Miami's big three is combining for 62 percent of the team's points and 61 percent of its shots. Wade struggled mightily against the Hawks, shooting 4-of-17. Rookie Norris Cole is the only other double-figure scorer on the roster, averaging 11.7.

KEY MATCHUP: Atlanta had success by slowing the tempo, getting into a halfcourt game offensively and throwing a zone defense at Miami. The Pacers' halfcourt offense depends on their frontcourt rotation of David West, Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough. If Indiana can exploit its size and strength advantage inside, it could help negate the inevitable productivity of James and Wade on the wings.

QUOTE MARKS: "We’re just trying to change the culture a little bit and not be so much of a one-on-one team. We’ve got so many guys on this team that any night they can carry the load defensively. Being willing to make plays for your teammates is ultimately what is going to define this team. This is what we are trying to work towards." -- West

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, C Jeff Foster (sore lower back) is day-to-day. For the Heat, C Mickell Gladness (left foot infection) is day-to-day; C Eddy Curry (hip flexor) and G Mike Miller (hernia surgery) are out.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 7. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play.