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Game Preview: Pacers vs Heat

TRAFFIC ALERT: Due to New Year's Eve festivities, Pennsylvania Street between Maryland and South Streets will be closed to traffic between 6 a.m. on Dec. 31 and 4 a.m. on Jan. 1. Georgia Street between Pennsylvania and Meridian Streets will also be closed from 6 a.m. on Dec. 31 to 4 a.m. on Jan. 1. 

Matchup

After a tough loss to Chicago on Monday, the Pacers will look to close 2014 on a positive note on Wednesday. Indiana (11-21) hosts the Miami Heat (14-18) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on New Year's Eve.

The Blue-and-Gold rallied from 21 points down on Monday night and retook the lead via a 20-0 run by their bench unit in the fourth quarter before ultimately falling to the Bulls, 92-90.

One major positive from Monday's game was the re-emergence of Chris Copeland. Copeland had fallen out of the rotation in the past few weeks due to what head coach Frank Vogel called "inconsistent" play on the offensive end. But an illness to Damjan Rudez gave Copeland another opportunity, and he's made the most of it. Cope has scored in double figures in both of the past two games, including 17 points on Monday. He showed some versatility to his game against the Bulls, posting up against smaller wing players to great success in the fourth quarter.

The Heat, meanwhile, are coming off two straight losses and are just 5-11 in the month of December. That drought has dropped them to eighth place in the Eastern Conference. All-Star forward Chris Bosh had missed eight straight games with a calf injury, but returned to the lineup on Monday, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 33 minutes against Orlando.

For Pacers fans, the biggest storyline in this game is the return of Danny Granger. Granger, the Pacers' first-round pick in 2005, spent his entire career in Indiana until he was traded to Philadelphia last February. He was subsequently bought out by the 76ers and signed with the Clippers for the rest of the season before joining the Heat this summer.

Wednesday's game will be the first time the former All-Star and 2009 Most Improved Player award winner will suit up in the visiting locker room at The Fieldhouse. Granger has been playing well as of late, scoring 18 points against Memphis on Saturday and 21 against Orlando on Monday, making 7-of-10 shots in both games. Prior to Monday, Granger hadn't scored 20 points in a game since May 20, 2012 (Game 4 against the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals).

Projected Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Rodney Stuckey

Rodney Stuckey

Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade

Luol Deng

Luol Deng

Chris Andersen

Chris Andersen

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

Pacers: PG - George Hill, SG - Rodney Stuckey, SF - Solomon Hill, PF - David West, C - Roy Hibbert
Heat: PG - Mario Chalmers, SG - Dwyane Wade, SF - Luol Deng, PF - Shawne Williams, C - Chris Andersen

Injury Report

Pacers: Paul George - out (rehabilitation, fractured right tibia/fibula), Ian Mahinmi - out (torn left plantar fascia)

Heat: Josh McRoberts - out (right meniscus surgery), Justin Hamilton - out (concussion), Shawne Williams - questionable (sore left foot)

You Can Quote Me On That

"(I have) many fond memories (with Danny Granger). He's a close friend. His family's very close with my family. I'm happy to see that he's finally looking like he's starting to get healthy and getting some minutes and being productive for (the Heat) down there." -Frank Vogel on Danny Granger returning to Indiana

"It's going to be good to see him back in this building. I'm hoping that the fans show him good support. He's meant a lot to this program and to this city." -George Hill on Granger's return

"It's an early game. I'm sure everybody's going to be excited. We've just got to come out and play defense the right way and move the ball on offense and the rest will take its course." -George Hill on keys to Wednesday's game

"I was just fortunate yesterday...I'm trying to stay ready behind the scenes in workouts, lifting weights with (strength and conditioning coach) Shawn Windle, and getting with the coaching staff, getting that extra work in so that when my number is called, the guys trust in me." -Chris Copeland on staying ready

"I feel like (posting up) is an underrated part of my game. I had opportunities early in the season (where) I didn't do as good a job as I should have. But I really feel like I have an advantage there, especially playing the 3 spot (small forward)." -Copeland

Last Meeting

November 12, 2014: The 2014-15 Pacers did something they couldn't do in 2013-14: win a game in Miami. Undermanned Indiana upset the Heat, 81-75.

Chris Copeland's layup with 42 seconds remaining gave the Blue-and-Gold the lead for good. Copeland finished with a team-high 17 points. Roy Hibbert (16 points and 15 rebounds) recorded his third double-double of the year, and Donald Sloan added 15 points and six boards.

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 20 points. Former Pacers forward Shawne Williams added 15 for the Heat.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have won five straight regular season home matchups over Miami. The Heat last won in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the regular season on Feb. 14, 2012.
  • Indiana leads the overall series 56-40, including a 39-9 advantage all-time in Indianapolis.
  • Heat forward Shawne Williams was a first-round pick of the Pacers and played for Indiana from 2006-08.
  • Heat forward Josh McRoberts (out for the season with a right meniscus injury) played for the Pacers from 2008-11.

Broadcast Information

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5/1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)

Tickets

Good seats still remain for Wednesday's game against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Plus, pay zero fees for any tickets purchased online through December 31, courtesy of FOX Sports Indiana. Find Tickets »