Miami HEAT at Indiana Pacers Game Preview
Photo Credit: Jeff Haynes
The Miami HEAT face the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The HEAT fell to the Pacers 120-95 in their last meeting on Nov. 19. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 6:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1: What impressed you the most about Miami’s one-point win in Toronto?
Couper Moorhead: It certainly wasn’t the prettiest game you’ll ever see but nobody cares about style points when you’re trying to beat a team that’s only lost one game all season at home. With Tyler Johnson also out due to injury and James Johnson ejected from the game in the first half, the HEAT certainly didn’t have enough available bodies to care about looking good, either. They simply defended as hard as they usually do, made the best out of the lineups they had – including some minutes with both Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo that defended quite well – crashed the offensive glass (20 offensive boards) and made just enough plays to pull out the win.
Few will remember the details of this one outside of Wayne Ellington’s game-winning layup, coming on the exact same set that won the game on Sunday, but they will remember Bam Adebayo playing the finest game of his very young career. Finishing with 16 points, 15 rebounds and, most impressively, five blocks, Adebayo was a terror all over the court while Erik Spoelstra trusted him with the ball in his hands, to run handoffs, down the stretch. Miami has a lot of bodies worthy of minutes in the frontcourt and Adebayo refuses to let himself be left out of that conversation.
Joe Beguiristain: The HEAT’s defense on Tuesday night really stood out to me. Thanks to a collective effort, Miami held Toronto to just 38.9 percent shooting and swatted 14 shots. In particular, Josh Richardson and newcomer Derrick Jones Jr. gave DeMar DeRozan fits for a majority of the night and limited him to 10-of-29 shooting from the field.
Although the Raptors were without their second-best player in Kyle Lowry, the HEAT also had a handful of key contributors out. As Coup mentioned above, Tyler Johnson missed the game with a left shoulder strain and James Johnson was ejected after a scuffle with Serge Ibaka. After the ejection though, we were treated to the Bam Adebayo show.
Whether Adebayo was paired with Kelly Olynyk or Hassan Whiteside, he shined regardless. Things got really fun in the fourth quarter, as the rookie led Miami with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting in the period and kept Toronto on its heels more often than not.
That said, the HEAT wouldn’t have won without two clutch layups from both Wayne Ellington and Goran Dragić down the stretch. Ellington took advantage of an aggressive close out from Pascal Siakam and drove baseline for the game winner, while Dragić blew past Delon Wright and Norman Powell for his bucket.
Whatever it takes.
2: What went so right for Indiana in their last game against Miami?
Couper: Everything? Nothing about this game went right for the HEAT, so it stands to reason that everything did for Indiana. It was one of the few games this season where the HEAT simply did not meet their own standards on the defensive end. It’s not film that they will enjoy watching again.
But for as poorly as Miami played in that game, the Pacers also shot incredibly well. They hit for 11-of-23 from deep and, perhaps even more impressively, 18-of-26 from mid-range.
And that’s about all we need to say about that game.
Joe: That last matchup against Indiana on Nov. 19 was one of Miami’s toughest losses of the year. The HEAT were simply not up to par on the defensive end, as they gave up 120 points on 60 percent shooting at home.
After the game, Erik Spoelstra stated a couple times that his team would find a solution and find a way to play Miami HEAT basketball. Lo and behold, he was right. While the HEAT were up and down immediately following that matchup, they have won 12 of their last 16 and are currently on a five-game winning streak.
How’s that for a response?
3: What can Miami do to slow Victor Oladipo?
Couper: Oladipo has been one of the best stories of the season so far, transforming himself into one of the premier two-guards in the league, one capable of shouldering the lion’s share of offensive responsibility without sacrificing efficiency.
As for what Miami can do against him, the answer is exactly what they did in helping to force 10-of-29 shooting from DeMar DeRozan on Tuesday night. Between Josh Richardson, Derrick Jones Jr. and Wayne Ellington the HEAT pressed up on DeRozan, chased over the top of screen to eat up space and when DeRozan tried to use his physicality in the paint they stayed down and contested his shots (with Richardson even getting a couple blocks). There’s no magic bullet against the league’s best scorers, you simply play tough, disciplined defense and stick to the principles that best allow your teammates to offer help when necessary. If you do all of that and they still hit their shots, then you tip your cap. You just can’t let a player like Oladipo dribble into comfortable jumpers as he did last time out.
Joe: Like Richardson, Victor Oladipo has had a breakout season this year. In addition to being a stout perimeter defender as usual, the 25-year-old Oladipo is averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category. Although Oladipo can shoot the mid-range jumper almost as well as DeRozan, he takes (and makes) far more threes. What’s more, the former Indiana Hoosier also averages 1.01 points per possession as the pick-and-roll ball handler (88.4 percentile). As such, Miami will have to play up on him and give him no air space when coming off a screen. Of course, the HEAT’s slew of bigs will also have to be disciplined like they were for most of Tuesday night’s victory over the Raptors.
While it’ll be tough, Miami has the personnel and mental toughness needed to come away with the win.
- The HEAT have won five straight and are 23-17 on the year.
- The Pacers have won two in a row and enter the contest at 21-19.
- Goran Dragić is averaging 21.6 points, 7.4 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game during Miami’s five-game winning streak.
- Victor Oladipo leads Indiana in points (24.5) and steals (1.9) per game.
- HEAT Offense: 103.4 (22)
- HEAT Defense: 104.8 (12)
- Pacers Offense: 108.2 (8)
- Pacers Defense: 106.8 (21)