The Indiana Pacers (2-3) will debut their NBA Pride Hickory uniforms Friday as they take on the Miami Heat (3-2). The Pacers and Heat last met in April when Paul George returned to the court after fracturing his tibia and fibula. Paul George and Luis Scola scored 13 and 23 points, respectively, as the Pacers beat the Heat, 112-89, to take their third win in four games against the Heat last season.
The Pacers are entering tonight’s game on a two-game win streak against the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics. Paul George is coming off of his best shooting night as he scored 26 points and collected 10 rebounds. The Pacers are starting to put it together defensively and out-rebounded their opponent for the first time this season as Jordan Hill and Lavoy Allen pulled down 10 and 11 boards, respectively.
The Heat took down the Minnesota Timberwolves in last night’s contest, 96-84, and enters tonight on their second leg of the back-to-back. Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 25 points which included a halftime buzzer beater from the opposing three-point line.
The Pacers will need to watch out for Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside as both players have gotten out to hot starts this season. Dwyane Wade has scored 20-plus points in all five games while Hassan Whiteside has had multiple games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds. Wade may see a lot of time near the basket as he will attempt to post up the smaller Monta Ellis. The Pacers may need to switch George Hill or double team Wade if this situation occurs.
The Pacers ability to score inside will also be a point of emphasis tonight. The Pacers scored just 26 points in the paint in their win against the Celtics on Wednesday. Big man Jordan Hill and slasher Monta Ellis will have to get going in order to create room outside. The Heat allowed just 84 points last night by the young Timberwolves and 36 points in the paint.
Bench play could be a big advantage for the Pacers. Against the Celtics, the four bench players combined for 28 points. The Heat bench combined for just 15 points last night. Look for the Pacers to go on large runs when the Heat substitute their starters. To counter, it will be up to rookie Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, and former Pacer and Carmel High School alum Josh McRoberts to score the ball.
With the Heat’s large frontcourt consisting of Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, and Luol Deng, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel will most likely start a similar lineup to Wednesday’s game against the Celtics. The Pacers will miss C.J. Miles (out), as he combined for 42 points in last year’s two home wins against the Heat.
Pacers: PG – George Hill, SG – Monta Ellis, SF – Paul George, PF – Lavoy Allen, C – Jordan Hill
Heat: PG – Goran Dragic, SG – Dwayne Wade, SF – Luol Deng, PF – Chris Bosh, C – Hassan Whiteside
Pacers: C.J. Miles – out (ankle)
Heat: Gerald Green – out (illness), Mario Chalmers – questionable (knee)
The game will be available on ESPN, FOX Sports Indiana, and 93.5 FM/1070 AM.