Playoff basketball is finally happening. After a four month hiatus, weeks of training camp, and eight seeding games, we have now reached the postseason.
The Pacers find themselves facing a familiar foe in the first round in the Miami Heat. Indiana and Miami met in two of their final three seeding games, meaning if their playoff series goes the maximum seven games, they could face each other in nine of 10 contests.
PLAYOFF CENTRAL: See More at Pacers.com/Playoffs »
When it comes to facing the Heat, the Pacers have to both protect the paint and guard the 3-point line. Miami ranked fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts per game this season (25.2), but also ninth in 3-point attempts (35.4).
Forward Jimmy Butler (19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists per game) and center Bam Adebayo (15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game) are the Heat's two All-Stars, though neither are threats from 3-point range. But Miami coach Erik Spoelstra is mindful of surrounding them with a bevy of capable shooters like Duncan Robinson (.446 3-point percentage), Jae Crowder (.445), Tyler Herro (.389), and Goran Dragic (.367).
Defensively, expect the Heat to key on T.J. Warren, who has been the Pacers' go-to option in the bubble with All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis absent due to plantar fasciitis. The Heat keyed heavily on Warren in a 114-92 win last Monday, limiting him to just 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting, and can throw a variety of capable defenders on him between the likes of Butler, Crowder, and Andre Iguodala.
With so much of the defense's focus on Warren, the Pacers will need Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo to provide some scoring punch of their own. Brogdon has been solid in the bubble, averaging 18.2 points and 6.3 assists. Oladipo, meanwhile, has shown flashes of his previous All-Star form. In his last playoff appearance in 2018, he averaged 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6 assists while pushing LeBron James and the Cavs to seven games.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG -Victor Oladipo, SF - Aaron Holiday, PF - T.J. Warren, C - Myles Turner
Heat: PG - Goran Dragic, SG - Duncan Robinson, SF - Jimmy Butler, PF - Jae Crowder, C - Bam Adebayo
Pacers: T.J Warren - questionable (right foot plantar fasciitis), Jeremy Lamb - out (torn left ACL), Domantas Sabonis - out (left foot plantar fasciitis)
Heat: Derrick Jones Jr. - questionable (neck strain), KZ Okpala - out (personal reasons), Gabe Vincent - out (right shoulder sprain)
Aug. 14, 2020: With both teams resting several starters, the Pacers showcased their depth in a 109-92 win over Miami on the last day of the regular season.
Six Pacers scored in double figures, led by Doug McDermott, who scored 23 points in the win, going 8-for-16 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point range. Malcolm Brogdon, the only regular Pacers starter in the lineup on Friday, added 16 points in 25 minutes, going 4-for-7 from beyond the arc while also tallying six rebounds and six assists.
Second-year forward Alize Johnson got his first career start and responded with his first double-double, collecting 11 points and 17 rebounds (seven on the offensive glass) to go along with four assists.
"He did what he always does," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said of Johnson's career night. "He's been in the G League a lot for us, but he has always been a guy that rebounds the ball. He plays a lot bigger than he is down there and I thought tonight he did a great job of going after the ball."
Kendrick Nunn led the Heat with 23 points, but went just 8-for-26 from the field. Former Pacer Solomon Hill added 21 points, seven rebounds, and three assists off the bench, while Tyler Herro finished with 16 points.
- This will be the fifth time the Pacers and Heat have met in the playoffs. Indiana won the first meeting, a second-round series in 2004, while Miami eliminated the Pacers in three straight postseasons from 2012-14, the last two years in the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Pacers head coach Nate McMillan is back in the playoffs for the fourth straight season and the seventh time in his last eight seasons as a head coach. McMillan's career postseason record is 17-32. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is 71-47 in the playoffs, but this is just his second postseason appearance in the last four seasons.
- This will be the first playoff series for Pacers forwards T.J. Warren and JaKarr Sampson, as well as rookies Goga Bitadze and Brian Bowen II.
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (studio host)
TNT - Bob Fitzgerald (play-by-play), Jim Jackson (analyst), Stephanie Ready (analyst)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)