Miami is one series victory away from returning to the NBA Finals for the third consecutive season. The team in Miami’s way, Indiana, will give the Heat its toughest test this postseason.
Indiana has played extremely well against Miami this year but the playoffs are a completely different story.
Here’s a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Season Series: Pacers 2, Heat 1.
Playoff Records: Pacers 8-4; Heat 8-1.
- Game 1: Thursday, May 23, Indiana at Miami
- Game 2: Saturday, May 25, Indiana at Miami
- Game 3: Monday, May 27, Miami at Indiana
- Game 4: Wednesday, May 28, Miami at Indiana
- Games 5: TBD
- Game 6: TBD
- Game 7: TBD
Miami Leading Scorer: LeBron James, 24 points per game.
Indiana Leading Scorer: Paul George, 19.1 points per game.
Playoff Statistic to Note for Miami: Heat average 23.1 assists per game.
Miami shares the ball just about as well as any team in the NBA. Only the San Antonio Spurs average more assists than the Heat this postseason.
Against Indiana’s stingy defense, sharing the ball is what will determine the outcome of this season. It starts and ends with LeBron James as he averages a team-high 7.3 assists per contest.
Playoff Statistic to Note for Indiana: Pacers average a playoff best 47.3 rebounds per game; 12.7 offensive rebounds per game.
Indiana makes its move on the boards. With 7’2” Roy Hibbert and other tenacious rebounders, the Pacers have a distinct advantage on the glass against Miami.
Rebounding will be crucial for both sides.
Matchup to Watch: Miami’s defense against Indiana’s offense.
Miami’s defense leads the playoffs in opposing team’s field goal percentage at 40.9 percent. They force teams into difficult shots and it’s all about their length and athleticism.
LeBron James can be an unreal defender and so can Dwyane Wade. But it’s not just those two guys, Shane Battier and several others make it difficult for the opposition, too.
And to make this matchup more intriguing to watch is the fact that Indiana struggles to score the ball at times.
Difference in Series: Can Paul George be THE guy to lead Indiana past Miami?
Paul George has been amazing under the spotlight since Danny Granger went down. He leads the Pacers in scoring this postseason with 19.1 points per game, but he will be forced to be even greater this series.
He will receive a dose of James, Battier and even Wade at times to throw off his rhythm. His focus and composure will be tested because of the great team defense of Miami.
If he shines bright, Indiana has a chance.
Prediction: Miami in six
I like Miami in this series but I expect the Pacers to test the Heat unlike any team thus far. In the end, however, you’ll see too much LeBron James and company.