Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Game Preview: Pacers (18-3) vs Heat (16-5)

Scott Agness | December 7, 2013

Matchup

The Pacers and two-time defending champion Miami Heat face off for the first time this season on Tuesday, just one day after the team returns from a taxing five-game trip all against Western Conference teams. Nine days later, they’ll square off again in Miami—then not again until late March.

Last season, they played three times during the regular season – twice in Indy – with the home team winning by double-digits each time. Then, for the second straight year, the Heat knocked the Pacers out of postseason play.

During the seven-game Eastern Conference Finals, the teams won every other game. Since Miami hosted Game 1, they also had the series-clinching Game 7 at their house and that was ultimately the difference. That series loss has driven the Pacers to earning home-court advantage. After breaking down the game tape, they sincerely believe they were less than a dozen bad minutes away from the NBA Finals.

As of Saturday, the Pacers have the best record in the league and have been treating each game with ultimate focus. A bad loss, which they've had just once to this point (at Chicago) may not seem like much but, come April, it can be the difference between being the top seed or not.

Since the Pacers and Heat last met, the Pacers upgraded their bench with C.J. Watson, Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland. Copeland can come in, knock down shots and space the floor, or potentially be a weapon should coach Vogel choose to play small ball versus the Heat. However, that’s unlikely because size is Indiana’s greatest strength against the Heat. The Heat’s greatest weakness is their rebounding—they are dead last in the league. The Heat added Lawrence North product and oft-injured center Greg Oden in the offseason, mostly for a likely playoff rematch.

Miami is the only team in the Association connecting on half its shots. At 40 percent, they are also terrific from outside, despite the fact they amnestied sharpshooter Mike Miller after last season.

LeBron James’ play has been excellent this season. He’s averaging almost 26 points, six rebounds and six assists per game while shooting better than 58 percent from the field.

The Pacers will play physically, lock in defensively and look to make the Heat uncomfortable. No motivation is needed to get up for this one, despite the possibility of being sluggish after their first big road trip of the season. Last postseason’s exit is more than enough.

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

Shane Battier

Shane Battier

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

Injury Update

Pacers: Danny Granger (out, strained left calf)
Heat: None

Quotable

“We’re trying to earn the one-seed and obviously Miami is capable of going on a 27-game win streak as they proved last year. We feel like we’re one of the best teams in the NBA. The head-to-head matchups are going to be important to earn the one-seed. It does carry a little more weight than most regular season games, so we’re approaching it that way.” – Frank Vogel

“If they play big, if they play small, we’ve seen it all and they’ve seen everything we do. It just comes down to execution.” – Vogel in response to Miami switching their defensive assignments

“It’ll be great to sleep in your own bed and stop living out of suitcase for a little while. That’s part of the NBA season. You go on the road for a while and then you get some home stretches. And you always welcome home stretches.” – Vogel on playing seven of their next nine games at home

“I’m pretty amped up about this game. … I wouldn’t say it’s (just) another game. It’s going to be a real test for us, mentally and physically.” – Roy Hibbert

“Playing against the Heat I get hyped. They the champs, you always got to bring it to the champs. I’m taking this game as a championship game.” – Lance Stephenson

“Of course we're hyped. It's a chance to go head-to-head against another elite team. We feel we're matched up pretty equally. We've done a tremendous job in our season so far, but we're not going to hang (our hat) on what goes down tonight.” - Paul George

Noteworthy

  • Paul George beat out LeBron James for Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November. James won that award in five of six months last season.
  • The Pacers won two of their three regular season meetings last season—both at the Fieldhouse.
  • Indiana (9-0) and Oklahoma City (10-0) are the final unbeaten teams at home.
  • David West is just two rebounds away from grabbing number 5000 of his career.
  • Miami is 15-0 this season when holding its opponents under 100 points. The Pacers average 98 points per game.

Last Regular Season Meeting

March 10: The Heat prevented a season sweep by the Pacers, beating the Pacers in Miami, 105-91, for their 18th consecutive victory. The Heat closed the first half on a 10-2 spurt for a 10-point lead, then started the second half with 15-3 run. They shot 56 percent from the floor and were 7-of-14 from beyond the arc. Miami also scored 27 points off of 18 Indiana turnovers.

David West scored 15 of his 24 points in the second stanza. Roy Hibbert had 16 and D.J. Augustin, who drilled four of his eight 3-point attempts, had 14. Paul George was limited to just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting and he coughed it up five times. Mario Chalmers was 5-of-6 from outside and paced all scorers with 26 points. Chris Bosh had 24 and Dwyane Wade added 23.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host); NBA TV
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)

Ticket Information

Tickets are limited for the Pacers-Heat game, but good seats still remain. Find Tickets »

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