Wednesday night’s game between the Pacers and Heat was more than just another tally in either the win or loss column. Instead, with the season winding down and games growing in importance, there was much more to be said with the Pacers 84-83 win.
For the Pacers, they now hold the series edge over the Heat, 2-1, with just one game left between the two. The point to consider may be that each team has won on their own home court and the Heat still has one game left in South Beach on April 11th. Home court wins is exactly what the Pacers want, considering they are playing for home court advantage, which they can lock up if they get the number-one overall seed in the East.
Speaking of that number-one seed, the Pacers were able to gain an extra game on the Heat after their win on Wednesday. Had the Pacers lost, their lead would’ve dwindled down to only one game, after having as much of a five-game lead earlier in the season. However, with the win the lead now extends to three games, giving the Pacers just a bit more extra breathing room.
In actually, both teams may have really needed that win. The Heat have gone 5-5 in their last ten and the Pacers have hardly been much better at 6-4. The question is whether or not these teams are just cruising now that they’ve locked up spots in the playoffs, but one would have to think that one of them would want to pull ahead in order to guarantee themselves home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs. After all, it was Game 7 in 2013 that the Heat was able to knock off the Pacers in Miami, after which they would advance and eventually win the NBA Championship.
One could look at the exit of Dwayne Wade in the fourth quarter as a vital turning point in this game. After all, had he been on the court the Heat would’ve had an extra option to give the ball to with just seconds left on the court. Instead it was Chris Bosh that would take, and miss, a jumper after George Hill failed to connect on either of his two free throw attempts for the Pacers. LeBron James had 38-points so he certainly did his part, but the only other person on the Heat to score in double digits was Wade, who had 15 before his early exit.
The Pacers were paced by Paul George, who had 23. But he got just as much contribution from Roy Hibbert, who had 21, Lance Stephenson, 15, and David West, 13. Overall, the entire Pacers offense was hitting on Wednesday night and their defense did enough to stop everyone except LeBron.
This game was certainly one of the more hyped up ones of the week in the NBA. However, we still will be lucky enough to see these teams go at it one more time this year. That is, unless they both make it to the Eastern Conference Finals –fingers crossed- and duel it out there as well. In the meantime, the Heat will try and make up some ground to catch up on that three-game lead that the Pacers have. If they can do that, the game on April 11th could be even more meaningful than was Wednesdays. And with every team winning on their home court, that might be just how Miami wants it.
Be sure to check back with sportspicks.com handicappers when this game gets closer to find out who is projected to win that all-important last matchup of the season between these two squads.
|Miami Heat (48-22)|
|S. Battier||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|M. Beasley||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|J. Jones||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|45.9%||31.6%||72.4%||team rebs: 11||total to: 19|
|Indiana Pacers (52-20)|
|L. Allen||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|R. Butler||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|C. Copeland||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|S. Hill||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|37.0%||50.0%||81.0%||team rebs: 11||total to: 12|
- Heat: Allen, Hamilton
- Pacers: Bynum, Watson
- Heat: Wade
- Pacers: Stephenson, Stephenson
- Lead Changes: 15
- Times Tied: 7
- Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
- Officials: #13 Monty McCutchen, #56 Mark Ayotte, #36 David Jones
- Attendance: 18165
- Duration: 2:42