Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 at 8:30 PM EDT at American Airlines Arena

Game Preview: IND at MIA, Game 1

Scott Agness | May 20, 2013

Matchup

Only four teams remain in the NBA playoffs, including the Pacers. Seeking their first NBA Finals appearance since 2000, they'll look to knock off the defending champion Miami Heat. It won’t be easy, and some would call the thought crazy, but there’s deserved belief within this team that it can be done.

The Heat had a spectacular regular season, capped off by winning 37 of their final 39 games, including 27 straight since a 13-point loss in Indianapolis on Feb. 1. Counting the playoffs where they’ve won eight of nine games, the Heat’s win percentage over their last 48 games is .938. Miami has had home court advantage throughout the playoffs and is averaging 98.6 points per game while shooting 49 percent in the postseason.

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LeBron James won named the league’s Most Valuable Player for the fourth time in five seasons. He’s been spectacular, averaging 24 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. Paul George has the key defensive assignment for the third straight series. After taking on the challenge of Atlanta’s leading scorer (Josh Smith), then matching up with the NBA’s scoring champion (Carmelo Anthony), George now is tasked with stopping James – the best player in the world. In three regular season meetings, James averaged 21 points per game against the Pacers.

The most intriguing matchup of the series might be Lance Stephenson versus Dwyane Wade, a 9-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion. Wade is dealing with a bruised knee but he’s said it’s fine and that he doesn’t have any limitations. Stephenson, meanwhile, is most remembered nationally for their matchup last postseason when he displayed a choke gesture from the bench after James missed a pair of free throws. He has grown tremendously, like many Pacers, in the absence of Danny Granger.

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Unlike last postseason, however, Chris Bosh will be a factor. He was limited to 16 minutes and only appeared in the first game of last year’s six-game series because of a strained abdominal muscle. He’s playing great in the playoffs, can extend the defense with his range, and scored in double figures in all three meetings this season. Bosh doesn’t like to play physical so that’s a weakness the Pacers may look to expose.

Indiana’s advantage is in the frontcourt with David West and Roy Hibbert. West’s matchup against Udonis Haslem is favorable and Hibbert is outstanding at protecting the rim. The Pacers are averaging eight more rebounds per game than the Heat. That’s a stat category they’ll want to win, because rebounding is an area of weakness for the Heat. That’s why Miami went out and signed Chris “Birdman” Andersen in mid-January.

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The Pacers are confident, individually and as a unit. They play together, don’t care who gets the points and credit, and will compete on every play.

Three keys for the Pacers, beyond the obvious of containing James and Wade: 1) limiting turnovers, 2) controlling the paint and rebounding advantage, 3) getting help from the bench.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade

LeBron James

LeBron James

Udonis Haslem

Udonis Haslem

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

Injury Update

Pacers: Danny Granger (out for the season, left knee)
Heat: None

Quotable

“This is not about last year’s series. That’s in the past. We’re trying to get to the NBA Finals and that’s our only thought process going into this series.” – Frank Vogel

“If he were the lone ranger, he could be an MVP candidate. He’s one of the best big men in game, one of the best skilled big man in the game.” – Frank Vogel on Chris Bosh

“New York prepared us for how well we have to take care of the basketball and limit our turnovers. The difference between that series and this series is if you turn the ball over against Miami, it’s going to be a dunk show. The penalty for turning the ball over is much greater in this coming series.” – Frank Vogel

“He’s the best offensive player in the world and Paul’s just got to do the best that he can like he did on Carmelo. Carmelo went off a couple times and LeBron is going to have some moments where he’s going off but [George] is going to just try to compete, do the best he can and do it all without fouling. We do not want to put these guys to the free throw line.” – Frank Vogel on defending LeBron James

“We grew a lot. From me, Lance, George, Roy – everybody just took on a larger role and for us to do this without having our leading scorer and our leader of last year, [Danny Granger], it’s pretty unbelievable.” – Paul George on the team’s growth from last year

“We’re in this thing to compete, we’re in this thing to win. We’re just going to have to do what we have to do on the floor to make sure the outcome is in our favor.” – David West

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers are 2-1 vs. Miami this season, with the home team winning each game.
  • even of the Heat’s wins this postseason have been by double-digits and they haven’t given up more than 94 points in a playoff game.
  • The Pacers are the first team to make the conference finals without a top-five draft pick. D.J. Augustin, taken ninth by Charlotte, is the highest drafted player on their roster.
  • Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra finished second for the NBA’s Coach of the Year award, behind Denver’s George Karl. Frank Vogel was fifth.
  • The Heat have sold out 146 consecutive games.

Last Meeting

March 10: Strong efforts from five players combined with a 56 percent shooting helped the Heat to a 105-91 win in Miami, preventing a season sweep by the Pacers. The Heat went on an 11-3 run early in the contest to go ahead 17-14, and rolled from there to their 18th consecutive win. D.J. Augustin made three 3-pointers off the bench to draw Indiana within 12 with 6:33 to play, but the Heat scored six straight points and put the game out of hand. LeBron James threw off the Pacers’ wings by defending Stephenson rather than Paul George. Indiana’s 14-point loss, in which Frank Vogel was given a technical foul early in the fourth quarter, felt much worse than the final margin.

The Pacers’ frontline was strong, receiving 24 points from David West and 16 from Roy Hibbert. Augustin added 14. Mario Chalmers led all scorers with 26 points. LeBron James recorded 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting and Dwyane Wade contributed 23. Ray Allen, who was scoreless in the first two meetings, added 11. The Pacers turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 28 points for the Heat.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings

TV: TNT – Marv Albert (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst), Steve Kerr (analyst), Craig Sager (reporter), David Aldridge (reporter)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Michael Grady (host)
Note: The Pacers TV crew of Chris Denari, Quinn Buckner, Austin Croshere and Brooke Olzendam will have a 30-minute postgame show on FOX Sports Indiana immediately following the game./>/>

Ticket Information

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